Because the number of cases of measles in the US this year continues to increase – so far there have been more than 1,000 cases reported – the country is in danger of losing its status as eliminating measles, health officials said.
But what exactly does it mean to eliminate measles and when measles is no longer considered “eliminated” in the United States?
The Centers for Disease Control and Control (CDC) announced Wednesday (June 5) that 1001 cases of measles have been reported in the US so far this year. This is the largest number of cases of measles reported since 1992 in one year. The biggest outbreak occurred in New York, where 566 cases of measles were reported, and in Rockland County, New York, where 256 cases of measles have been reported since last October.
Measles was released in the US in 2000. Elimination of measles does not mean eliminating that there are no cases of illness in one country, said Dr. Amesh Adalia, Senior Scientist at Johns Hopkins Health Security Center in Baltimore. On the contrary, this means that there is no “local” disease transmission. In other words, all the measles outbreaks that have occurred since 2000 began in countries that did not experience manipulation, and soon did not last long – above all, they have continued for less than a year, he said. 27 devastating infectious diseases
However, if measles transmission lasts at least one year, the disease is no longer considered to be eliminated. That means that if the New York epidemic continues in the fall, the United States will be removed from the list of countries that will eradicate measles in October, Adalia said.
This result is now a real opportunity. “This is a very real opportunity for the US to lose its status as a measles remover,” Adalja said in the fall.
Dr. William Shaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, agrees. “As the US measles outbreak continues, we risk losing our status because measles has the potential to be removed this year,” Schaffner said.
However, Adalia noted that measles transmission in the summer months is slowing down and “hopefully this will reduce the rate of spread”.
But because every new update from health officials announced more cases of measles, “it becomes less likely” that the outbreak will be suspended in time, said Adalat.
If the United States loses its extinction status, it means “a big step back” and “chaos” for the country, said Adalia. “It is impossible that all public health work to achieve this elimination status will be in vain,” he said.
The return of measles to the US can also be a blow to international efforts to eradicate this disease. “I think it will reduce the determination of the world,” Schaffner said.
And just because measles has been removed in the US doesn’t even mean that it’s easy to do it again. Adala noted that when measles was eliminated in 2000, culture was far more acceptable than vaccine science. With the emergence of the anti-vaccine movement, “it may be difficult to do what you have done again,” he said.
To regain status after being lost, the United States must prove that there is no long-term transmission of measles in the country for at least one year.
This disease can cause serious complications: About 1 in 4 people get measles, 1 in 20 has pneumonia, 1 is hospitalized because of 1000 brain swelling, which can cause brain damage and die more than 1 or 2 in every 1,000 people. According to the CDC, the disease.
And even without complications, this disease can be a “very unpleasant experience,” Schaffner said. “It’s sad to me” that so many children have measles this year, he said. “Why do you have to go through this?”
Measles is a highly contagious disease and high vaccination coverage – more than 90 percent – is needed to prevent the spread of measles in certain areas and stop the outbreak, said Schaffner. The epidemic is currently spreading mainly in vulnerable communities where there are bags of unvaccinated people.
To stop the outbreak, vaccination rates in this area must be increased. However, for people who are skeptical about vaccines, it is usually not enough to tell them the facts about vaccine safety to convince them, Schaffner said. – The fact is cold.
Instead, doctors must be prepared to discuss this issue and work with community leaders to educate members about the need and social acceptance of vaccines, Schaffner said. “That won’t happen overnight,” he said. “It takes time and effort and maintenance issues … we have to keep working on it.”