More than 900 children and young adults have been killed by the measles epidemic in Madagascar, with babies most at risk of contracting the deadly virus. More than 68,000 cases of the disease were diagnosed since the outbreak began on the African island in September.
More than 900 children and young adults have been killed by the measles epidemic in Madagascar as the World Health Organisation warn babies are most at risk.
Although the figures are likely to be incomplete, 553 deaths are confirmed and another 373 suspected. More than 68,000 cases of the disease were diagnosed since the outbreak began on the African island in September.
In response to the outbreak, 2.2 million of the 26 million population have been vaccinated in emergency, the WHO said.
In 2017 only 58 per cent of the population had been vaccinated against measles. The lack of a big outbreak since 2003 and 2004 – with reported number of cases at 62,233 and 35,558, respectively – also means many people have had little chance to develop immunity.
Madagascar, which is in the Indian Ocean, plans to standardise on a routine two-dose vaccination programme later this year.
Meanwhile, cases have soared by 300 per cent worldwide in the last year, erupting across the US now. A global measles outbreak ahead:
The resurgence of the disease in some countries has been linked to medically baseless claims linking the measles vaccine to autism, which have been spread in part on social media by ‘anti-vaxxers’.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which can be prevented, that can cause complications including blindness and brain swelling and increase susceptibility to other diseases.
Last year, measles caused approximately 136,000 deaths around the world, mostly under the age of five, according to WHO’s preliminary figures.