How the Americas Eradicated Endemic Measles
Why vaccinations should not be overlooked
America is the first region to be free from endemic measles and it’s certainly a triumph worth celebrating.
Measles is a viral disease transmitted by airborne droplets or if an individual comes in direct contact with secretions from the nose, mouth, and throat of those infected. It can cause health problems, such as pneumonia, brain swelling, and even death.
The announcement about the elimination was made last week by the International Expert Committee for Documenting and Verifying Measles, Rubella, and Congenital Rubella Syndrome Elimination in the Americas.
“This achievement culminates a 22-year effort involving mass vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella throughout the Americas,” said the Pan American Health Organization.
However, the task has not been an easy one. Due to poor communication among local and national health departments and unvaccinated migrants the process of declaring a disease eradicated from a region which usually takes three years, took 14.
Though endemic measles have been eliminated in America, there have been several outbreaks of imported strands reported. In December 2014, when a flare-up occurred in Disneyland, it was discovered that 9 million American children had not been properly vaccinated.
Since then, California, West Virginia and Mississippi have more strictly enforced the vaccination of schoolchildren.
As one of the most infectious diseases, primarily affecting children, it’s astounding that in the last two years, 80% of cases have dropped as donors have contributed funds to getting children vaccinated in impoverished countries.
There is still, however, a long way to go. Measles are a widespread killer of children in other countries so this triumph is only a step toward helping the rest of the world.