US on measles alert after detecting six outbreaks of infection


Washington, United States.

Health experts from the United States warned on Wednesday about the return of measles in recent years in the country, especially in communities that they reject vaccination and they receive exemptions for religious or personal reasons.

Six outbreaks of measles were declared on January 1 in the states of Washington, Colorado and New Yorkleaving 159 affected for the disease.

Since 2000, every year, between 50 and several hundred cases have been registered, despite the fact that this highly contagious disease was declared eradicated at the beginning of the century in the United States.

That return is "unacceptable," he said on Wednesday. Anthony Faucy, director of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, during a speech to the US Congress. "We need to get back to zero," he said.

The measles virus is one of the most contagious. You can stay in a place until two hours after the infected person leaves.

Most American measles epidemics begin when the virus reaches the body of a person returning from a trip abroad, since the disease is still very active in many countries.

It then spreads among people who have not received a vaccine, who tend to live close to each other.

"There are groups of people who have questions about vaccines," explained Nancy Messonnier, director of National Center for Vaccination and Respiratory Diseases.

In the past five years, 12 out of 26 outbreaks (more than 5 patients) have reported themselves in "very close" groups, such as the Somali community of Minnesota in 2017 or the Orthodox Jewish community in the Brooklyn borough of New York. last year.

– Disinformation –

Disinformation about vaccines is one of the factors behind this data, experts said, blaming social networks for spreading false information about the risks of vaccines.

The vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella is "incredibly safe," said Nancy Messonnier. Since it was created in the 1960s, millions of doses have been used successfully.

And that success is precisely one of the current problems, Messonnier said. As the number of cases of measles has been reduced by 99% since the discovery of the vaccine, parents no longer perceive the risks.

In order to obtain collective immunity, ie to protect unvaccinated and at-risk (babies, pregnant women), the vaccination rate should be between 92 and 95% of the population, Fauci explained.

The national rate for children is close to that level, but there are large disparities between states and even between cities or schools.

– Exemptions –
The most egregious illustration of the problem is Clark County, north of the city of Portland (northwest). Sixty-five of the 159 national cases are concentrated there, and the majority of those affected are children under the age of 10.

Fifteen years ago, in that county, 96% of five-year-olds were vaccinated against measles. In 2017-2018, the number dropped to 84%.

In some schools, especially private ones, the vaccination rate against this disease, mumps and rubella ranged from 20 to 30% in the past. More than half of the students are exempt in some schools.

Public officials in the state of Washington responded to the epidemic by pushing for a bill to eliminate vaccine exemptions for personal or philosophical reasons. The text does not, however, mention religious reasons.

And other states are considering ending the exemptions.

In the United States, only three of the 50 states (California, Mississippi and West Virginia) allow exemptions only for medical reasons. AFP


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