Measles is making a rapid comeback in African, Asian and even some European countries despite being easily avoided through vaccination, the World Health Organizations said Friday as countries pledged to sharply cut infections and deaths worldwide by 2015.
Since 2008, funding cuts for vaccination campaigns have allowed measles to spread again where previously it was close to being eradicated, the global body said.
"Being one of the most contagious diseases, measles is making a rapid comeback," said Dr. Peter Strebel, who leads WHO's work on measles.
Measles deaths among young children fell to 118,000 in 2008, compared with 1.1 million in 2000, according to WHO.
But the number of cases has surged over the past year, with large outbreaks reported in 30 African countries — from Mauritania to Zambia and Angola to Ethiopia — and Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Bulgaria.
Even Britain experienced a worsening measles outbreak.
The disease's resurgence in Britain follows a sharp drop in immunization rates in the late 1990s sparked by the publication of a flawed paper linking autism to the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
Britain has reported 1,000 cases in each of the last two years — more than 10 times the figure a decade ago.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Another item that will surely figure into the vaccine debate, as AP reports: