Measles is a viral disease that is highly contagious and is transmitted through droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of people infected with the disease. Some symptoms of measles are progress from fevers; white spots inside the mouth, and bloodshot eyes; to a rash on the face and neck that spreads across the body. Although the infection can clear within 7 to 10 days; but it can cause life-threatening complications including blindness, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and pneumonia.
Severe cases of measles are more likely to develop in malnourished; young children, or in people with suppressed immune systems; like those living with HIV/AIDS or other diseases that compromise the immune system. In recent years, we have witnessed a resurgence of measles cases even in countries where, according to World Health Organization guidelines; elimination should already have been achieve. This resurgence is due to sub optimal vaccination coverage levels.
Despite the NHS stating that measles is now “uncommon in the UK because; of the effectiveness of vaccination”, there has been a sharp increase in measles cases worldwide in recent years. Preliminary measles surveillance data for 2019 published; by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed a “clear trend” in measles outbreaks; with outbreaks currently occurring in the Democratic Republic; of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand, and Ukraine.
However, it also states that in 2017; an estimated 110,000 deaths were cause by measles, and mostly affected children under the age of 5. This is despite approximately 85 % of the world’s children having one dose; of the measles vaccine by the age of one. Researchers from the Bruno Kessler Foundation and Bocconi University expressed; concern about the fall in vaccination rates worldwide.
Using computer modelling; they have predicted how many measles cases could occur between 2018 and 2050; detailed in a study publish in BMC Medicine. However, the projections made in the study suggest that by 2050; if vaccination policies remain the same; the proportion of the population susceptible to measles would; range from 3.7 % in the UK to 9.3 % in Italy.
Our results suggest that most of the countries we have studied; would strongly benefit from the introduction of compulsory vaccination at school entry in addition to current immunization programs.“In particular, we found that this strategy would allow the UK; Ireland and the US to reach stable herd immunity levels in the next decades; which means that a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease to avoid future outbreaks.
“To be effective, mandatory vaccination at school entry would need; but to cover more than 40 percent of the population.”Smitha Mundasad, a BBC health correspondent said that vaccines “may have become a victim of their own success. Because they’re working so well and doing what they are suppose to do; may be people aren’t seeing the serious complications of measles anymore. However, This may lead to people underestimating the seriousness of the disease and not believing vaccines are necessary.
The fall in vaccination is also due to a study that was based on just 12 children drawing links between the measles; mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, leading many people to be wary of vaccinating their children; despite this research being extremely flawed and later disprove and remove by the Lancet where it was first publish. Social media is also helping to fuel anti vaccine debates through sharing low quality or inflammatory information.