California Parents Are Getting Around Vaccine Law, Fueling Measles Outbreaks

Desiree Burns
March 2, 2019

The World Health Organisation reports that cases worldwide had soared almost 50 percent in 2018, killing around 136,000 people. More recently, before the modern measles vaccine was developed in 1963, more than 48,000 people were hospitalized-and around 500 people died-each year in the USA alone.

Measles vaccines became available in 1963.

The WHO last month listed "vaccine hesitancy" among the top 10 most pressing global health threats for 2019.

"This is a wake-up call", UNICEF's Fore said.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease transmitted by respiratory droplets and direct contact.

"These cases haven't happened overnight. Just as the serious outbreaks we are seeing today took hold in 2018, lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for children tomorrow", Fore said.

Ukraine suffered the world's largest increase in the number of measles cases in 2018, some of them the result of the so-called "anti-vax" movement, the United Nations children's agency says.

Other nations with a surge in cases were Serbia with 4,355 cases previous year, followed by Madagascar with 4,307, Sudan with 3,496, Thailand with 2,758 and France with 2,269. Only if 95 percent of the population are vaccinated, their immunity also to people who can't be vaccinated for health reasons.

The virus can be contracted by someone up to two hours after an infected person has left a room.

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Brazil, which had no reported cases in 2017, recorded 10,262 previous year.

There is no specific treatment for measles, making vaccination a "life-saving tool for children", UNICEF stresses. "Two doses of measles vaccine are about 97 percent effective in preventing measles", said Dr. Christina Tan, state epidemiologist.

People born before 1957 who have had the lab testing that shows they are not immune and may be at high risk should have one dose of the MMR vaccine and then a second dose 28 days later.

She added that parents should talk to their children's pediatricians if they have any concerns.

The number of measles cases around the globe surged to alarmingly high levels in 2018 with 98 countries reporting increases in infected patients from a year earlier, according to data by UNICEF.

The focus on measles in the Pacific Northwest intensified Friday as public health officials in OR announced a new case of the highly contagious disease unrelated to an ongoing outbreak in Washington state that's sickened 68 people so far.

Rob MacMillan, a paramedic specialist with the BC Ambulance Service, says calling for an ambulance runs the risk of exposing countless others to the highly-infectious disease.

Even though it has been declared eliminated in America, "measles continues to circulate globally, which means unvaccinated USA travelers can be exposed to measles and bring it back home with them", Messonnier said at the hearing.

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