Worldwide Measles Spotlight

Worldwide Measles Spotlight: February 17, 2019

Efforts to halt the spread of measles are backsliding says the WHO

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According to mid-February 2019 reports by various health organizations, the worldwide measles outbreak continues to expand in over 40 countries. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning on February 14, 2019, that efforts to halt the spread of measles were ‘backsliding’. 

"Our data are showing that there is a substantial increase in measles cases, in all WHO regions," said Katherine O'Brien, MD, WHO's Director of Immunization.

"We're having outbreaks that are protracted, that are sizable, and growing. We’re backsliding because of the failure to vaccinate,” said Dr. O'Brien. 

Dr. O'Brien also pointed out in an AFP article, that ‘less than 10 percent of measles cases are actually reported.’   

As an example of the worldwide measles outbreak, one of the most significant expansions was reported by the Philippines, with a total of 6,921 measles cases confirmed from January 2019 through February 13, 2019.

Listed below are the measles updates from various media sources for the week ending February 17, 2019:

USA:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 101 measles cases in 10 states during 2019.

  • Atlanta, GA: The Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed 3 measles in the Atlanta area during 2019.
  • California:  Los Angeles County confirmed 1 case of measles during 2019.
  • Colorado:  An international traveler in Denver has been reported with measles during January.
  • Connecticut:  The Connecticut Department of Public Health confirmed a second case of measles at the Yale-New Haven Hospital.
  • Hawaii: The state Department of Health confirmed two cases of measles in January on the Big Island. 
  • Illinois:  As of February 4th, the State health department reported 2 local cases of measles.
  • Kentucky:  Health officials say a child contracted measles after returning from international travel. The child was not vaccinated. 
  • New Jersey:  The New Jersey Department of Health confirmed 33 measles cases during 2019 and has declared the measles outbreak ‘over’.
  • New York City: As of February 12, 2019, there have been 73 confirmed cases of measles in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn since October 2018.
  • Monroe County, NY:  The Monroe County Department of Public Health has confirmed a total of 4 lab-confirmed cases of measles and 3 cases that while not lab confirmed, fit the clinical profile of measles - bringing to the total number of cases to 7. 
  • Rockland County, NY:  As of February 13, 2019, there are 135 confirmed reported cases of measles in Rockland County. 
  • Oregon: There are 4 confirmed measles cases in Multnomah County.
  • Texas: As of February 16th, 8 measles cases have been confirmed in the state of Texas during 2019. 
  • Washington: Clark County Public Health says since January 1st, there are 59 confirmed measles cases and is currently investigating 1 suspect case. 

The Americas:

  • Brazil: The CDC reaffirmed a Level 1 Travel Alert regarding Bazil’s ongoing measles outbreak for 2019.
  • British Columbia, Canada:  A total of 8 measles infections have been identified in Vancouver this week. Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Medical Health Officers determined that the first infection was acquired outside of North America. VCH reported another, unrelated case of measles, bringing the total number of cases to 9 during February 2019. 
  • Columbia:  The CDC reaffirmed a Level 1 Travel Alert regarding measles.
  • Honduras: The CDC reaffirmed a Level 1 Travel Alert for 2019.
  • Mexico:  Jorge Alcocer Varela, Secretary of Health reported that there is no health alert for measles. But, 776,000 children in Mexico have not been vaccinated because there was a vaccine shortage.
  • Venezuela:  A recent study on rising infant mortality in Venezuela published in the journal Lancet Global Health, said ‘mortality estimates [from the government] haven't been updated or publicly available since 2012,’ This study found that the infant mortality rate is now 21.1 deaths per 1,000 births, up from 15 deaths per 1,000 births in 2008. According to a new report published by the US CDC on January 30, 2019, Venezuela had contributed 68 percent of the measles cases reported in the Americas and most of the measles-related deaths (73/85), as of October 23, 2018. The CDC reaffirmed its Level 3 Travel Alert for 2019.

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The World:

  • Australia: Health Minister Greg Hunt announced an extra $12 million to fund a vaccine awareness campaign. Australia is now on track to hit a record target of 95 percent of children aged under five immunized against measles by 2020. 
  • England:  In the UK, there were 953 measles cases during 2018. The CDC reaffirmed its Level 1 Travel Alert regarding measles for 2019.
  • Ethiopia: Health officials said over 3.3 million children will receive the measles vaccine.  
  • France:  French health authorities have warned of a surge in measles cases (18) at the Val-Thorens ski resort, one of the highest in the Alps and a popular destination for both French and foreign tourists. The CDC reaffirmed a Level 1 Travel Alert for 2019.  
  • Georgia:  The National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and Public Health stated that 312 cases of measles were reported during 2019.  
  • Greece:  Over 2,600 measles cases were confirmed during 2018. The CDC reaffirmed a Level 1 Travel Alert for 2019.
  • Indonesia:  The CDC issued a Level 1 Travel for Alert for 2019.
  • Israel:  The Ministry of Health informs the public of exposure to a measles patient at a family care center, Clalit Health Fund, at 4 Habanim St., Ashdod, during February.  The CDC reaffirmed a Level 1 Travel Alert for 2019.
  • Italy:  The CDC reaffirmed a Level 1 Travel Alert for 2019.
  • Kazakhstan: The CDC issued a Level 1 Travel Alert on January 22, 2019.
  • Madagascar:  The CDC reaffirmed a Level 1 Travel Alert for 2019.
  • Philippines:  The Department of Health confirmed a total of 6,921 cases of measles and 70 deaths in Regions I, II, III, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, CARAGA, ARMM, CAR, and NCR, from January 2019 to 13 February 2019.
  • South Korea: A total of 30 confirmed measles were reported during January 2019.  
  • Thailand:  285 measles cases including 1 death have been reported during 2019. The CDC reaffirmed a Level 1 Travel Alert for 2019.
  • Ukraine:  On February 13, 2019, eight people were reported to have died of measles in Ukraine during 2019. The WHO data show that Ukraine logged 53,000 confirmed measles cases during 2018, accounting for more than half of all cases in Europe. The CDC reaffirmed a Level 1 Travel Alert 2019.  
  • Vietnam:  Measles has been reported in 43 out of 64 provinces and cities nationwide with 664 patients since early this month, according to the Ministry of Health. The ministry noted that up to 90 percent of infected children had not received a vaccination. In late 2018, the ministry launched an additional measles-rubella vaccination campaign for 4.2 million children aged between 1 and 5.

Measles is often brought into the United States by unvaccinated people who become infected in other countries, says the CDC. These international travelers then spread measles upon their return, which cause outbreaks in the USA. 

International travelers can request a pre-trip vaccine counsling appointment at Vax-Before-Travel.

In the USA, there are 2 approved measles vaccines, MMR-II and ProQuad.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides private sector vaccine prices for general information. And, measles vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, similar to medications, can cause side effects, says the CDC.

Significant vaccine side effects should be reported to the CDC.