WHO raises alarm over rapidly increasing measles infections

The World Health Organization (WHO) is sounding the alarm over the sharp rise in measles cases: More than 306,000 cases of measles were reported worldwide last year, the WHO announced in Geneva on Tuesday. This represents a 79 percent increase compared to 2022. Natasha Crowcroft, who is responsible for measles and rubella at WHO, said measles experts were “extremely concerned” by these figures.

WHO assumes that since not all measles infections are reported, the number of unreported cases is significantly higher. Modeling-based predictions showed 9.2 million cases of infection and 136,216 deaths from measles worldwide in 2022. There is no model calculation yet for 2023. However, Crowcroft pointed out that there was a 43 percent increase in deaths in 2022 compared to the previous year. Given the increasing number of cases, “we also expect an increase in deaths in 2023.”

Given this development, the current year will be a “huge challenge”, Crowcroft said. According to the World Health Organization, more than half of the countries are at high risk of a measles outbreak by the end of the year. It is estimated that approximately 142 million children worldwide are susceptible to the disease.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that spreads faster than the flu. Besides typical symptoms such as fever and red rash, life-threatening complications such as meningitis can also occur.

According to Crowcroft, the main reason for the increase in numbers is the “decline in the vaccination rate”. To avoid measles, at least 95 percent of the population must be fully vaccinated against the disease. According to the World Health Organization, the global vaccination rate has recently fallen to 83 percent due, for example, to missed vaccines during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), there were a total of 186 cases of measles in Austria last year. So far this year, a total of 129 confirmed cases of measles have been reported by the epidemiological reporting system (EMS) (as of February 20). AGES expects new cases. In Austria, the vaccination rate has also fallen significantly. For adults, the rate is 86 percent (as of 2022), while for children it is significantly lower.

(APA/AFP)

Source: Vienna

Facebook
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Twitter
Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *