The global measles threat remains for another year. There is still a high exposure of millions of unvaccinated children to viruses from the paramixovirus, the cause of the infection. “The structural problems caused by wars, climate disasters and the lack of access to vaccines prevent the elimination of this infectious disease,” laments Jordi Casabona, epidemiologist and secretary of the STI Group of the Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (Seimc). ).
After years of declines in measles vaccination coverage, measles cases in 2022 increased by 18% and deaths increased by 43% globally (compared to 2021). This gives an estimated number of nine million infections and of 136,000 deaths (mostly children)according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
These two international organizations insist on the public health problem What does the lack of immunization mean? “It is a serious and highly contagious infection“, explains its vice president, Pedro Gorrotxategi, from the Spanish Association of Primary Care Pediatrics (AEPap). “The problem arises when a child, who has not been vaccinated, enters a community in which there are gaps in vaccination rates. If there is circulation of the virus, it and those unimmunized minors will generate an outbreak“, remembers Gorrotxategi.
The problem does not only remain with the children, but also “in the vulnerable population“, as Casabona adds. “Older people, adults in whom the body lose your shield against the virus; in them, it can generate a significant health problem.
In 2022, 37 countries experienced major measles outbreakscompared to 22 countries in 2021. Of the countries that experienced outbreaks, 28 were in the WHO African Region, six in the Eastern Mediterranean, two in Southeast Asia and one in the European region.