Measles Threatens the Mexican Population Once MoreBy Miriam Bello | Tue, 04/14/2020 - 12:54
Measles is one of the main causes of infant death. The disease is caused by a highly contagious virus, seven times more contagious than COVID-19, and can be present at all ages of life if the person was not infected at childhood.
WHO recently reported that by 2018, measles had infected 10 million people and caused 140,000 deaths, the majority being children. This year, the challenge is different. While the whole world is focused on containing COVID-19, mandatory social distancing could lead to 117 million children not receiving a vaccine against measles on time.
Having a vaccine normally means that authorities do not have to worry about a disease. However, when you suddenly start having an outbreak all over again, the worry begins. By the beginning of March, Mexican authorities reported a number of 127 confirmed cases measles, which had nearly been eradicated from the country. This new outbreak was registered in a prison north of Mexico City but other cases were soon discovered in the southern region of the country. This scenario has forced the Ministry of Health to have a rigorous follow up of every case. Up to date, there are 133 confirmed measles cases. From these, only 20 of them had a vaccination history.
A former commissioner for influenza H1N1 in Mexico stated that “while a person with COVID-19 infects on average two to three people, one infected with measles infects at least 10, so the vaccination rate has to be very high for the disease to be under control.” The statement was made due to the recent outbreak showing the highest numbers since the last measles epidemic in 1989-1990, with 89,163 cases.
In the past, Mexico City’s Minister of Health had stated that from 2010 to 2018, vaccination coverage in general was decreasing. Despite efforts made in 2019 and the 3 percent rise in vaccination, the city is far from reaching a 95 percent protection rate in the population.
According to a study made by El País, Mexico City health authorities were forced to put up sanitary fences around reported cases and launch a vaccination program, which is the only way to tackle the problem, according to specialists. They inoculated inmates and custodians and set up posts in a few neighborhoods where most of the infected had been registered. Some 26,000 administered were given and another 168,000 were distributed in health centers by March 31, a spokesman for the city’s Ministry of Health assured. But official data shows how the virus has already spread geographically, meaning that the containment strategy was exceeded.
While many doctors and specialist have stated that the most effective thing is to identify the cases and give them the vaccine, it is impossible to encourage massive vaccination campaigns at the moment due to social-distancing measures.