Measles Outbreak: What you should know

NEWS DIGEST – According to Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), no fewer than
908 new suspected cases of measles were reported within 54 Local Government Areas across 16 states in the early week of January 2022.

In addition, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) said in their latest report that Nigeria posted a record of 12,341 cases of measles in the past 12 months, with global incidence increasing by 79 percent in the first two months of 2022.

Measles is a highly contagious human disease caused by the paramyxovirus virus family. It is normally passed through direct contact or by air, where it infects the respiratory tract and then spreads throughout the body.

Measles outbreak can result in epidemics that cause many deaths, especially among young, malnourished children.

The virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to 2 hours,  It can be transmitted by an infected person from 4 days before the onset of the rash to 4 days after the rash erupts.

An increase in measles cases in January and February 2022 is a sign of a heightened risk for the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases and could trigger larger outbreaks, particularly of measles affecting millions of children in 2022, warn WHO and UNICEF.

World Health Organization noted that non-immune individuals, Unvaccinated young children, and pregnant women are at the highest risk of Measles disease, complications & death.

WHO recommended that all children diagnosed with measles should receive two doses of vitamin A supplements, given 24 hours apart.

“This treatment restores low vitamin A levels during measles that occur even in well-nourished children and can help prevent eye damage and blindness”.

“Vitamin A supplements have also been shown to reduce the number of measles deaths” WHO says.

WHO also recommends two doses of measles vaccine to ensure immunity and prevent a persistent outbreak.

According to WHO, Routine measles vaccination for children, combined with mass immunization campaigns in countries with high case and death rates, are key public health strategies to reduce global measles deaths.