West Africa: Measles could infect hundreds of thousands in countries affected by Ebola

| March 23, 2015

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There could be a dramatic rise in cases of measles and other communicable diseases in West Africa following the recent Ebola outbreak, scientists warned last week.

A recent research report says that up to 20,000 children five years old or younger are at risk each month because of continuing disruptions to health care systems. Scientists fear that local systems, overwhelmed by the epidemic, will be unable to maintain immunization programs.

The report estimates that, coming after 18 months of reduced health care, a large measles outbreak could infect nearly a quarter of a million people. The vast majority of these would be young children.

Justin Lessler is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, U.S. He says: “We can actually do something about measles relatively cheaply and easily, saving many lives by restarting derailed vaccination campaigns.”

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Photo: A girl cries as she receives a measles vaccine. Photo credit: REUTERS/AKINTUNDE AKINLEYE