Measles is a serious and highly contagious infection caused by a virus. Prevention can be achieved by a safe and effective vaccine, the doses of which should be administered according to each country's national vaccination schedule. Americas region has confirmed 2,927 cases of the disease this year. The data are from the latest epidemiological update from the Pan American Health Organization, Opas, published on Wednesday, August 7. In July, 14 countries had identified cases. The highest proportion was recorded in the United States (1,172), followed by Brazil (1,045) and Venezuela (417). The Organization recommends vaccination of international travelers.
Other occurrences were reported in Argentina (5), Bahamas (1), Canada (82), Chile (4), Colombia (175), Costa Rica (10), Cuba (1), Curaçao (1), Mexico (3 ), Peru (2) and Uruguay (9). The current incidence of measles is 70% higher than last June 18, when the previous epidemiological update was published.
In addition, the agency also recommends that countries advise all international travelers, aged from 6 months who have not been vaccinated or cannot prove vaccination, to receiving measles and rubella vaccines. They should be administered at least two weeks prior to travel to measles-transmitted areas. The international body also emphasizes the importance of prevention for populations at risk, such as health professionals, people working in the areas of tourism and transportation, as well as identifying migratory flows from abroad and internal flows.
During outbreaks, proper case management should be established to prevent transmission within healthcare facilities, with adequate patient flow to isolation rooms, avoiding contact with other patients in waiting rooms and / or places of detention.
In 2018, nearly 350,000 measles cases were reported worldwide, more than double that reported in 2017. Globally, since 2010, three-dose diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccination coverage, DTP3, and one measles dose stagnated around 86%. Although high, the number is not enough.
To control the spread of this disease, PAHO recommends countries in the Americas to maintain at least 95% coverage of the target population. Other recommendations include the maintenance of epidemiological surveillance actions, the provision of health services and effective communication in this and other sectors including the community. The goal is to increase population immunity and quickly detect and respond to suspected measles cases.
The measles virus is spread by coughing and sneezing, close or direct personal contact with nasal or throat secretions. Symptoms include rash, which is redness of the skin, fever, runny nose, red eyes and cough. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infections, or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia. People with signs of measles should be taken to a health center immediately.
Measles morbillivirus remains active and contagious, in the air or on infected surfaces, for up to two hours and can be transmitted by an infected person from four to six days before and four days later.