The World Health Organization is sounding the alarm. In recent months, the number of measles cases has increased significantly in Europe. The statistics are alarming. WHO calls for urgent action.
The World Health Organization predicts that this situation may worsen in the near future, given the decreasing number of measles vaccinations. “We have seen not only a 30-fold increase in measles cases in the region, but also almost 21,000 hospitalizations and five measles-related deaths (reported in two countries), notes Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
Measles – a disease that poses an increasing threat
WHO indicates that from January to October 2023, over 30,000 cases of measles were reported. For comparison, there were 941 of them in the entire year 2022. Every fifth patient is a person aged 20 or older. However, two out of five cases concerned children. Vaccinations, as experts emphasize, are the only way to protect the youngest. Strong steps must be taken to prevent the virus from spreading further. All countries should be prepared to quickly detect infection outbreaks.
What to do to prevent further infections with this dangerous infectious disease? According to WHO, efforts should be intensified to inform societies about how dangerous measles can be. We need to organize large-scale campaigns encouraging people to get vaccinated and remind people about the complications that the disease may cause.
What are the symptoms of measles infection?
The measles virus is highly contagious. It is transmitted by droplets. A simple sneeze is enough to cause infection. Symptoms usually develop within 12 days. First, as Dr. Dagmara Chmurzyńska-Rutkowska (Mama Pediatra) points out in one of her blog entries, there is a cough, runny nose and sore throat. Over time, the indicated symptoms are accompanied by fever (reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius). You may also notice white spots on the cheek mucosa. However, 3-5 days after the first symptoms appear, a rash appears.
“Measles” eruptions are quite characteristic – the rash starts behind the ears and on the face and then goes lower and lower, covering the entire body. There are also changes in the oral mucosa. After a few days, the rash changes color. It becomes browner and then fades (it disappears in the same order in which it appeared). Its remains include peeling of the epidermis and the so-called dirty skin – notes Dr. Chmurzyńska-Rutkowska
Treatment is primarily symptomatic. However, it should not be underestimated. If measles is underestimated, it can lead to the development of serious complications, such as pneumonia, meningitis, and encephalitis. Sometimes it results in serious disability. Some complications make themselves felt after years.