Measles risk for passengers on Abu Dhabi-Toronto flight

Public health officials in suburban Toronto are warning that passengers on a flight from Abu Dhabi to Toronto’s Pearson airport may be at risk of being infected with measles.

Officials with Peel Public Health says they’re sounding the warning about the Etihad Airways flight 141 on March 25 after they discovered a baby who has tested positive for the disease was aboard.

That infant has already sparked public notices about possible exposure sites at a Brampton multicultural community centre (at 150 Central Parkway), three health clinics and the Brampton Civic Hospital emergency ward.

Health officials say they’re working with the Public Health Agency of Canada to identify passengers on the flight who may need a direct follow-up.

They say anyone aboard who have not had two doses of the measles vaccine or had the disease previously should watch for symptoms up until April 15.

Anyone showing symptoms are advised to call their doctor before visiting a clinic or hospital.

Source: CBC news

New York City Investigates Measles Outbreak

New York City health officials said Friday they are investigating an outbreak of measles that’s made at least 16 people sick.

It might be part of a bigger national outbreak linked to the Philippines.

Health officials are quick to declare concern when they see someone with measles, which is one of the most contagious human diseases. Although it was once seen as a normal childhood infection, it’s easily prevented with a vaccine. And it should be, because fully a third of patients develop complications from the virus, including pneumonia, miscarriage and brain inflammation that can put patients into the hospital or even kill them.

About 90 percent of unvaccinated people will get infected if they’re exposed to it.

New York health officials say four infected children were too young to have been vaccinated and that parents had opted not to have two others vaccinated.

Measles was considered eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, but the nation has seen a recent uptick in cases caused by unvaccinated travelers who become infected abroad. Last year, at least 175 cases of measles were reported in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

California has also been reporting an outbreak. As of last month, California health officials have counted 15 cases of measles in six counties.

They declared an alert when an infected college student used the San Francisco area public transit system, and he was later shown to have infected two male relatives.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Most people in the U.S. are either naturally immune to measles from having been infected or have been vaccinated against it.

The CDC said earlier this week they had tracked 54 cases of measles in the U.S. so far this year, including a dozen in people who had recently traveled to the Philippines.

Source: NBC news

Guinea Rushes to Curb Measles Outbreak

Health authorities in Guinea are scrambling to contain a measles outbreak that has killed one child, infected 37 others and spread to half of the country’s 33 districts.

More than 400 suspected cases, nearly all of them in children under 10 years old, have been registered. A vaccination campaign targeting over 1.6 million children is to be launched in the coming weeks.

“We have moved from three affected districts in Conakry before the end of last year to the whole city now being affected. Five more districts out of Conakry are also affected. It means that it could spread throughout the country,” said Felix Ackebo, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) deputy representative for Guinea.

“One of the causes is the nature of the disease. The other is the social/political instability. Many bilateral donors stopped support, awaiting the holding of legislative elections. The whole health system has been weakened. The government was restricted on what it could purchase, and this affected [availability of] vaccines and other important drugs. Many of the basic social services have suffered from this pause in investment,” Ackebo told IRIN. “In the past, we have been obliged to buy measles vaccines and others because the government could not.”

Only 37 percent of Guinean children are fully vaccinated, according to the 2012 Demographic Health Survey. The country’s last measles epidemic, in 2009, infected 4,755 people and killed 10.

Keita Sakoba, head of disease prevention at the Ministry of Health, said that the current stock of measles vaccine, meant for routine immunization, was insufficient for the vaccination drive. He explained that the outbreak was likely due to the accumulation of unvaccinated children.

“We will launch a vaccination campaign in the 15 affected districts and carry out targeted immunizations in districts neighbouring the affected ones,” Sakoba said.

Source: All Africa

Measles Outbreak Threatens Children’s Lives in Guinea

UNICEF and its partners have begun to organize a campaign to vaccinate over 1.6 million children to stop a measles outbreak in Guinea amid growing number of cases among children especially in the capital Conakry.

Since November last year, 37 cases have been confirmed in the capital-all children under 10 years old. Over the past few weeks, the number of cases of measles has been increasing sharply and led to the death of one child.

This recent spike has prompted the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene of Guinea to officially declare an outbreak in the Conakry municipalities of Matam, Matoto, and Ratoma. The disease has also been reported in other parts of the country -namely the prefectures of Boké, Coyah, Dubreka, Kissidougou, and Mandiana.

“We are very concerned about this outbreak. Measles is highly contagious and extremely dangerous–especially for young, malnourished children. As we’ve already seen, it can be fatal. In a densely populated city like Conakry, disease spreads quickly,” said UNICEF Representative in Guinea Dr. Mohamed Ayoya.

The Government of Guinea, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are joining forces to set up coordinated mechanisms to contain the outbreak. For the initial response, UNICEF will provide vaccines, refrigerators, needles, and other medical supplies and logistical support to the Government for the vaccination of children in the Kaloum and Dixinn neighbourhoods of Conakry as well as in the affected areas outside the capital. MSF and WHO will support vaccination efforts in the outbreak-declared areas of Conakry -namely Matam, Matoto, and Ratoma.

The vaccination phase of the national campaign will begin in the coming weeks as soon as vaccines, supplies and funding to ensure a continuous rollout are available.

Additionally, UNICEF and its partners will supply the Government with medicine to treat those who have already been infected by measles.

“There is no time to waste,” said Felix Ackebo, UNICEF Deputy Representative. “We need to move faster than the disease. Because measles takes up to 12 days to reveal its symptoms, it is possible that the disease has spread further into the country. All children who are still not immunized are at risk. Therefore, an outbreak immunization campaign is required as soon as possible.”

UNICEF and its partners are urgently seeking funding to replenish the stocks of vaccines needed to rollout the outbreak campaign across the country to vaccinate all children between nine months and 14 years. Additional medicines to treat those already infected are also required.

Source: All Africa

Spike in U.S. measles cases shows disease still a threat: officials

The number of reported cases of measles in the United States this year is nearly three times the annual average, federal health officials said on Thursday, highlighting the continued threat of the disease 50 years after development of a vaccine.

There have been 175 measles cases so far in 2013, compared with the typical national average of about 60 cases a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The federal health agency said home-grown measles were eliminated in the United States in 2000, but the disease has continued to be carried into the country from people who have traveled abroad.

The CDC said 172 of the 175 U.S. cases this year involved patients who were infected overseas or caught the disease from someone who had traveled internationally. The source of the other three infections remains unknown, the agency said.

“A measles outbreak anywhere is a risk everywhere,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said. “The steady arrival of measles in the United States is a constant reminder that deadly diseases are testing our health security every day.”

Earlier this year, the CDC linked 58 cases of measles in Brooklyn, New York, to an unvaccinated 17-year-old who had traveled to London. Twenty-three cases in North Carolina this year were tied to an unvaccinated resident who contracted the disease while on a three-month visit to India.

The CDC said 158,000 people die worldwide each year from measles.

The last measles death in the United States was in 2003, according to the agency. Before the country launched a widespread vaccination program in 1963, it had 450 to 500 measles deaths each year.

Measles is highly contagious and transmitted when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. The disease can be spread even before an infected person has developed a rash from the virus.

The CDC recommends that children get two doses of vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, starting at 12 to 15 months of age.

Increased vaccination worldwide and improving the ability of public health agencies to rapidly respond to outbreaks are keys to reducing measles and other diseases, the CDC said.

Source: Yahoo news

Measles still poses threat to US, health officials warn

Private school children at greatest risk of measles says leading doctor

Private school pupils ‘at greatest measles risk’

Although measles was officially “eliminated” in the United States in 2000, public health officials warned Thursday that the highly contagious, and sometimes deadly, virus continues to be imported from Europe and other parts of the world where the disease is still common. Despite high vaccination rates nationwide, measles continues to cause outbreaks in individual communities with large numbers of unvaccinated persons.

Between January 1 and August 24 of this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received reports of 159 laboratory-confirmed measles cases. Federal health officials say all of the U.S. cases so far this year involve persons who either acquired the virus while traveling outside the U.S. or were exposed to an infected international traveler.

According to the CDC, at least 82 percent of the cases involved patients who had not been vaccinated. An additional 9 percent of the patients had unknown vaccination statuses.

Of the patients who had not received measles immunizations, 79 percent had philosophical objections to vaccination, federal health officials said.

Results of a National Immunization Survey released today show that 90.8 percent of U.S. toddlers between the ages of 19 and 35 months have received at least one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) – just above the federal government’s target of 90 percent. However, federal health officials warned that measles imported from other countries can still cause large outbreaks in the U.S., especially if introduced into areas with clusters of unvaccinated persons.

Such clusters can exist in homes, neighborhoods, schools or religious organizations, with heavy concentrations of people who are opposed to vaccination.

Such was the case in New York City back in March. An unvaccinated 17-year-old infected with measles returned from a trip to the United Kingdom and is suspected to be the source of the largest U.S. outbreak of the disease since 1996. Public health officials identified 58 measles cases in two Brooklyn neighborhoods, all involving people who had not been vaccinated.

Fortunately none of the U.S. cases this year has resulted in death, and CDC officials said all of the outbreaks of 2013 have been contained, thanks to high vaccination rates and rapid response by public health agencies. However, they continue to urge Americans to get vaccinated because the disease is easily transmitted.

“You can bring measles virus into an arena, and anyone who’s not vaccinated in that arena who’s never had measles is going to get that virus,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Since elimination in 2000, the largest number of U.S. measles cases was reported in 2011, with 220 people becoming ill.

Source: Fox news