Alarm over measles outbreaks

Children waiting to be vaccinated in Kenya: WHO

Children waiting to be vaccinated in Kenya: WHO

A large outbreak of measles has been reported in Europe, Africa and the Americas according to the World Health Organization.

Close to 160,000 measles cases have been reported worldwide since January this year.

WHO says Africa bears the burden of the outbreak with over 130,000 cases.

The highest case load is in the DR Congo with over 100,000 cases and 1,100 fatalities.

Other countries affected include Nigeria, Zambia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

More than half of the 26,000 cases reported in the European region are in France.

Over 1,000 cases have been reported in the Americas with 742 cases reported in Quebec in Canada.

Dr Robert Perry from WHO say the outbreaks are linked with countries with high volumes of international travelers but also shortcomings and myths relating to the measles vaccine.

"In many European countries there has been some concerns about the link with MMR and autism, in the United States there has also been this concern. The effort that people are trying to make is work through physician's associations, to use the physicians to allay these fears of this mistaken worry that MMR is linked to autism. In countries in Africa, its often linked to delay in follow-up vaccinations campaigns and problems with routine immunization linked to problem with getting adequate funding to hold these campaigns at the correct time."

WHO says measles is a highly infectious disease that causes complications and deaths, even in previously-healthy individuals, but is fully preventable by vaccination.

Duration 36"

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