Worldwide measles outbreak surges threatening decades of progress.
And there is one single reason for it – people refusing to get vaccinated.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns there has been a spike in the number of reported measles cases.
Last year they surged by almost 33 per cent.
In Canada measles originate from infected travellers.
And these infected travellers can spread measles to groups of people who are not vaccinated.
And that can cause an outbreak.
So far this year in Canada 27 cases of measles were reported, up from two earlier this summer.
And the surge in measles cases has the WHO deeply concerned.
“Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under- or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress,” says deputy director, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, at the WHO.
Last year the measles outbreaks affected nearly all regions of the world.
The biggest outbreaks were in the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean region and Europe.
Martin Friede is the WHO director of immunization, vaccines and biologicals.
“We are seeing sustained measles transmission in countries that had previously not seen measles transmission for many years.
“So, the countries had eliminated measles, but it has now been re-established in the country.
“This is very worrying. This suggests that we are actually regressing in certain cases,” Friede says.
Measles are highly contagious, spread quickly and kill people.
But there is a fly in the ointment.
Worldwide Measles Outbreak Surges
At least 95 per cent of any population must have immunity in order to prevent measles from spreading.
So if there is widespread refusal to get the vaccine it is hard to control the spread of measles.
But in parts Europe the immunity rate is only 85 per cent or less.
And there are two reasons for it.
Parents being neglectful.
And the often widely held belief that the measles vaccine can result in autism and other serious health problems.
But the measles vaccine has been quite effective.
Since the year 2000 immunization has saved more than 21 million lives globally.