Measles cases surge: How this viral infection became a threat in India?


Measles infection, which is vastly common among children, is becoming a big threat for Mumbai. In the past few days, financial capital saw a rapid rise in the number of cases and what is more worrying is that several deaths have been reported in the city linked to the infection. 

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials have notified that reported cases of measles are increasing in the city and accordingly, they have identified Mumbai East and a few other parts as ‘high-risk’ areas. 

Apart from Mumbai, several other states are also seeing a significant rise in cases. 

Why Indian states are seeing a sudden rise in Measles infections?

According to official sources, there has been a massive drop in the vaccination rate in the past few years, owing to which many children are completely unprotected against the virus. Citing the same, Health ministry Joint Secretary P Ashok Babu asserted earlier this week, “It is also clear that in all such geographies, the effected children were predominantly unvaccinated and the average coverage of Measles and Rubella Containing Vaccine (MRCV) among the eligible beneficiaries is also significantly below the national average.” 

World Health Organisation also identifies ‘lack of vaccination’ as the root cause for the sudden measles outbreak worldwide. It cited in a recent report, A record high of nearly 40 million children missed a measles vaccine dose in 2021 due to hurdles created by the COVID pandemic. 

What is the solution to this? 

Right now the only solution is to provide proper coverage to the infected and increase vaccination coverage. 

The Centre has advised states to consider administering one additional dose to all children of 9 months to 5 years in vulnerable areas. The special dose for Measles and Rubella for Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) reporting purposes is referred to as the one additional dose.

“This dose would be in addition to the primary vaccination schedule of first dose at 9-12 months and second dose at 16-24 months,” he said.

The vulnerable areas are to be identified by the state government and UT administration in “Outbreak Response Immunization” (ORI) mode.

Measles is one of the most contagious human viruses and is almost entirely preventable through vaccination. However, it requires 95% vaccine coverage to prevent outbreaks among populations.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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