September 22, 2020

UN urges stepped-up measles surveillance in Caribbean

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Morbillivirus_measles_infection-300x200By CMC From St Lucia News Online

CMC – The United Nations says its health agency has called for “stepped-up” surveillance to prevent the spread of measles in the Americas, including the Caribbean.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the recent outbreaks of measles — one of the leading causes of deaths among young children — in the United States and Brazil suggested that immunisation rates in some areas have dropped below levels needed to prevent the spread of imported cases into the Americas.

The WHO and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) have both reported that there were 147 confirmed measles cases in four countries of the Americas this year, as of February 8.

“Of that total, 121 cases were in the United States, linked primarily to an outbreak that began at Disneyland in California last December,” said the PAHO/WHO statement. The statement said that a single case in Mexico was also tied to that outbreak. Of the remaining cases, 21 were in Brazil and four were in Canada.

“Thanks to high levels of immunisation, the Americas have been on track for more than a decade to be formally declared free of measles,” said Dr Cuauhtemoc Ruiz, head of PAHO/WHO’s immunisation programme. “Maintaining high levels of vaccine coverage is key to preventing and halting outbreaks and to protect our populations from the constant threat of imported cases.”

Measles had been considered eliminated from the Americas since 2002, due to the absence of endemic transmission of the disease as the result of the region’s success in achieving high levels of immunisation, the UN said.

Now, measles elimination “is facing major challenges, with several ongoing importations of measles in some countries,” said PAHO/WHO in an epidemiological alert distributed Tuesday to member countries across the region.

The alert urges countries to strengthen measles surveillance activities and to “take appropriate measures to protect residents in the Americas against measles and rubella”.

For more on this story go to: http://www.stlucianewsonline.com/un-urges-stepped-up-measles-surveillance-in-caribbean/#sthash.IDfqsbQI.dpuf

See also related iNews Cayman story published February 12 2015 “Cayman Islands Public Health issue Advisory of measles outbreak” at: https://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/cayman-islands-public-health-issue-advisory-of-measles-outbreak/

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