July 20, 2011 - Ethiopia and Kenya are facing a severe measles epidemic, with inadequate availability of vaccines adding to the trouble in both Horn of Africa nations. UNICEF statistics state that there have been over 17,584 measles cases in 2011, including 114 deaths, attributing the pathetic situation to the lack of resources and political unrest.
Measles, caused by a virus, can sometimes become fatal. The virus is contagious and thus spreads quickly in overcrowded conditions, lacking in sanitation. The situation has become extremely worrisome due to widespread fighting in the region, which has caused constant movement of people into refugee camps, where filthy conditions are the breeding grounds of the disease.
The World Health Organization is concerned about the quick spread of water-borne diseases and measles in Ethiopia and Kenya. The world health body has called for timely vaccination of young kids to prevent them from measles and water-borne diseases, including acute watery diarrhea.
According to WHO Spokesman Tarik Jasarevic, the situation is critical in Ethiopia, particularly the population in the worst-affected areas. WHO statistics put the number of children most at the risk of measles at 2 million. More than 5,000 cases have been reported since the beginning of the year. WHO estimates that over 3 million children under the age of five must be screened for malnutrition.
WHO blames the extremely serious measles outbreak on the “complex humanitarian crisis,” caused by the increasing refugee inflow from Somalia, with their kids at a high risk of the disease. People have been forced to flee their homes to escape the worsening drought and violence, which has made it even more difficult for them to make measles vaccines available for their kids. The refugee crisis is having negative health consequences as measles spreads easily in migrant camps.
Measles Comes Back in Developed World
Measles seems to be making a comeback in the United States and parts of the developed world. The WHO statistics are quite surprising in this regard. According to the world health body, 4,937 cases of measles were reported between January and March in France, which is a serious cause for concern as only 5,090 measles cases were recording during the entire 2010. Across Europe, over 6,500 cases have been reported this year alone. Auckland in New Zealand seems to be experiencing the worst measles outbreak in a decade.
Being a contagious disease, measles transmits from person to person. Some of the common measles symptoms include fever, cough, bloodshot eyes, muscle pain, rashes, and sensitivity to light. Though there is no particular treatment for measles, bed rest, acetaminophen, and humidified air can ease the symptoms.