Saturday , October 23 2021

Potentially deadly measles can be eliminated by widespread vaccination


The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw how beautiful she was, she hid him for three months. Exodus 2: 2 (The Israel Bible ™)

Measles – a highly contagious viral disease that affects 20 million people and kills about 75,000 a year, mainly in developing countries in Africa and Asia – is a good candidate for eradication. There is an excellent, very effective vaccine, in contrast to influenza and other infectious diseases, it does not occur in animals.

Symptoms usually develop from 10 to 12 days after exposure to an infected person and last for seven to ten days. The airborne disease is so contagious that it's enough to be in the same room as someone with measles; you do not have to be coughing or sneezing or being touched to get it.

Initial symptoms usually include fever, often greater than 40 ° C (104.0 ° F), cough, runny nose and red eyes. A flat, red rash that usually begins on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body is the most famous symptom.

Serious complications include bronchitis, encephalitis, pneumonia, seizures, corneal ulceration and scarring in the eye, blindness and acute encephalitis. Children who have a weakened immune system due to cancer or other diseases are particularly vulnerable. In addition, measles can suppress the immune system for weeks to months, which can contribute to ear infections and bacterial pneumonia.

About one in 1,000 patients develops encephalitis that causes permanent damage. Death is the result of neurological or respiratory complications.

In the early 1960s, when the rebirth was so common that one child was infected, parents often brought healthy children to be close to him to go with the infection. However, in 1963, a safe and effective vaccine was introduced in the western world, in which measles cases were recorded in the US from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands per year, and in the 1980s only thousands per year.

So if there is a protective vaccine, why have the measles not been washed away like smallpox? The elimination of measles – defined as a stoppage in the transmission of measles worldwide, that vaccination could be stopped – is theoretically possible.

First, the vaccine is not effective in infants under one year of age. Secondly, vaccinations cost money, and many very poor countries can not afford it, even with the help of the World Health Organization. Others are infected because they do not have access to high quality medical care.

In addition, there are older people who have never been infected naturally and have not been vaccinated as children, and can be a source of infection. For the measles to fall to zero, it is estimated that over 90% to 95% of the population must become immune. In 1995, 32 countries reported a coverage level of measles vaccine below 60%; in Haiti, for example, the range of routine immunization of infants and then only 23% was recorded.

With the increase in global air travel, if one airline passenger has measles, it can infect many on the plane.

The growing problem in the West is the Internet and social networks, thanks to which people who are ill-informed, who are ideologically opposed to vaccination, try to convince others not to protect their children. This happened in developed European countries, where some parents refuse to vaccinate their children. As a result, the World Health Organization reported that in the first half of 2018 more than 41 000 measles cases in Europe were reported; 40 children and adults were killed.

The first dose of the vaccine should be given around the first birthday of the child and the second dose when it reaches the first grade; shots offer about 97% of protection indicators.

New Israeli study published in Journal of Pediatrics he discovered that children of uneducated women in this highly developed country are more at risk of being vaccinated or suffering from delayed vaccinations. Researchers from the Ben-Gurion University in Negev in Beer Sheba have shown that the less formal education of mothers, the less likely their children between the ages of two and four will receive the full vaccinations recommended by the state.

Research by a doctor under the guidance of Dr. Guy Hazan, under the supervision of prof. Ron Dagan and Michael Friger from the Faculty of Health Sciences at BGU are particularly important now because Israel is in the midst of a serious outbreak of measles. One 18-month-old child in Jerusalem has recently died of complications from measles, the first such case since 2003. In addition, more than 1,400 measles cases were recorded this year, compared to only a few dozen in the last year. year.

The vast majority of new measles cases occurred in Jerusalem, and almost all of them relate to the ultra-orthodox Jewish community. More extreme groups in this sector who do not accept the Jewish state, refuse to contact the state, and therefore do not take their children to the children's outpatient clinics.

The smaller group responsible for the spread of measles in Israel are Jews who do not believe in vaccination, prefer the approach of "natural medicine" and throw themselves on "false messages" that they read on the Internet. The Israeli government is considering excluding unvaccinated children from kindergartens and other educational frameworks and punishing recalcitrant parents by canceling tax breaks.

The BGU study is based on a documentation review that included 2023 young children in five maternity and infant care centers in southern Israel in 2015-2016. The focus was on various vaccinations against children's diseases: hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus. acellular, pertussis (with or without polio vaccine), measles-mumps-rubella-chickenpox and hepatitis A.

The Ministry of Health reiterated the call for vaccination of children from diseases aged 18 months to 7 years.

"We found that maternal education was inversely correlated with the probability of delaying vaccinations by 4% to 9% (depending on the visit of vaccinations) in each school year over 10 years," said the study. There was no correlation between the level of father's education and the delay of vaccination. The researchers conclude that better education, which emphasizes the importance of education on the timing of vaccination, may also act as a catalyst for improving other health-related behaviors.

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