Home » Measles, one of the most contagious diseases: this is why the increase in cases is worrying – SulPanaro

Measles, one of the most contagious diseases: this is why the increase in cases is worrying – SulPanaro

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Measles, one of the most contagious diseases: this is why the increase in cases is worrying – SulPanaro

The Increase in Measles Cases is Worrying: WHO Urges Urgent Action

The recent increase in measles cases has raised concerns among health experts, who warn of the highly contagious nature of the disease. According to Massimo Andreoni, a professor emeritus of infectious diseases and the scientific director of the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, one case of measles can generate up to 16 more cases, making it one of the most contagious infectious diseases.

While a new variant of the measles virus has been isolated, Andreoni emphasizes that it is not particularly dangerous in terms of public health. However, the increase in cases is a significant concern, especially for vulnerable populations such as young children. The World Health Organization (WHO) regional office for Europe has also highlighted the urgent need for a rapid and concerted response to the measles epidemic.

In 2023, over 58 thousand people in 41 member states of the WHO European region were infected by the measles virus, leading to thousands of hospital admissions and 10 related deaths. The high percentage of cases among children under 5 years of age reflects the impact of the Covid pandemic on routine immunization services, leaving many children susceptible to preventable diseases.

WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, urges health systems to catch up on immunization services and to reach the 1.2 million children who did not receive the measles vaccine between 2020 and 2022. While 33 member states have achieved verification of measles elimination as of 2022, the agency highlights that this achievement remains fragile and requires sustained efforts to maintain.

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The WHO also warns that the risk of importation of measles into the European region is almost inevitable, and it is critical for all affected member states to strengthen surveillance, scale up routine immunization services, and conduct catch-up vaccination activities. While progress has been made in countries such as Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Romania, continued transmission in the region poses an ongoing threat to the health of millions of children.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world, and unvaccinated young children and pregnant women are at the highest risk of serious complications. The virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to two hours, making it easy for any non-immune person to be infected.

The WHO continues to work closely with all member states to respond effectively to ongoing measles outbreaks and to address immunization inequalities. In the meantime, the agency urges communities to actively reach out to undervaccinated or unvaccinated individuals to combat the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.

As the measles epidemic continues to pose a serious threat to public health, the WHO and health authorities worldwide emphasize the urgent need for vaccination and the importance of maintaining high levels of immunization coverage to prevent the further spread of this highly contagious disease.

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