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ways of measles is a preventable but persistent threat


Measles, a highly contagious viral disease, continues to pose significant global health challenges despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes measles as one of the leading causes of death among young children, even though it is preventable through vaccination.

What is Measles?

Measles is caused by the measles virus, a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. The virus typically infects the respiratory system first, but it can spread throughout the body. Initial symptoms often resemble a common cold: high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Within a few days, a characteristic red rash spreads from the face to the rest of the body.

The disease spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Because it is so contagious, the measles virus can linger in the air for up to two hours after an infected person has left an area.

The Global Burden of Measles

Despite progress in vaccination efforts, measles remains a significant public health concern. According to WHO, in 2018, there were over 140,000 measles-related deaths worldwide, mostly among children under the age of five. Outbreaks are often exacerbated by insufficient vaccination coverage, which can be due to a variety of factors including vaccine hesitancy, logistical challenges in vaccine delivery, and lack of access to healthcare.

The Importance of Vaccination

Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent measles. The measles vaccine is typically administered as part of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, which is given in two doses. The first dose is usually administered at 12-15 months of age, and the second dose at 4-6 years. Two doses of the vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles.

Herd immunity is a crucial aspect of controlling the spread of measles. For measles, about 95% of the population needs to be vaccinated to prevent outbreaks. This high level of immunity helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated, such as infants and individuals with certain medical conditions.

Challenges and Future Directions

Despite the effectiveness of the vaccine, measles outbreaks continue to occur, often in areas where vaccination rates have dropped. Combating misinformation about vaccines and ensuring equitable access to vaccination are critical steps in eradicating measles. Public health campaigns and community engagement are essential to increase awareness and acceptance of vaccines.


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