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Madagascar, Africa: Measles 300+ DEAD

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    Posted: February 07 2019 at 4:46pm
Madagascar facing devastating measles outbreak
CNN's David McKenzie travels to Madagascar as the country experiences a massive measles outbreak, causing more than 300 deaths and 20,000 to become infected.

Source and video: CNNhttps://edition.cnn.com/videos/health/2019/02/06/measles-outbreak-madagascar-david-mckenzie-pkg-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/around-the-world/
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More on the same story

IMGL0739 Ð Credit: Brent Swails/CNN Measles found Hasina Raharimandimby and her family. Over three heartbreaking days in late January, three of her young children died of the virus. She says they werenÕt able to access the measles vaccines at the clinic when they wanted them.

"I miss taking them sweets and snacks for them whenever I came back home from work," she says. "We used to play and feed the birds near our home."

Madagascar, the island nation off the coast of East Africa, has been hammered by its worst measles outbreak in decades. The secretary general of the ministry of health told CNN that more than 50,000 people have caught the disease since October 2018 and there have been more than 300 deaths -- mostly children.

Hasina has brought her youngest surviving child to this clinic on a hillside in the center of Antananarivo because he has a cough.
After his siblings died, he was vaccinated during one of the four planned rounds of a massive campaign orchestrated by the government, UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

The doctor tells her the cough is nothing to worry about. It's just a common cold.

Because of its relative rarity in the developed world, measles is sometimes incorrectly regarded as a mild virus with limited impact. But it can take hold rapidly and cause encephalitis, deafness and in extreme cases, death, especially when a patient is malnourished or has a weakened immune system.

Hasina's children were only sick for a few days before they rapidly worsened and died. She says they weren't able to access the measles vaccines at the clinic when they wanted them.

"This is hard and I am bitter," she says. "You cannot always prevent death, but mothers should do all they can to protect their children."
An entirely preventable tragedy

When Lon Kightlinger retired from his job as state epidemiologist in South Dakota, he didn't think his past life would catch up to him quite like this.

"We heard rumblings of a measles outbreak in the capital between December and January and I just knew we were going to get hit," he says, inside a tiny clinic in Madagascar that's about three bone-jarring hours' drive from the capital.

Kightlinger worked in public health here as a young man. Now, well into his 60s, he has come back as a Peace Corp volunteer.

"Most of the other volunteers are young, idealistic and full of energy," he smiles, "but I bring a bit of perspective, I think."

That perspective helped him recognize the warning signs of a larger outbreak. "Our one doctor here, who has been practicing physician for 12 years, had never seen a case of measles until a month ago. And then boom, boom, boom, they started walking through the door. And it hasn't stopped," he says.

In Madagascar, the outbreak has hit every region of the country and all major towns and cities.

The measles virus is highly contagious -- it spreads through coughing and sneezing and can live in the air where an infected person coughed or sneezed for up to two hours. If someone who is not immune to the virus breathes the air or touches an infected surface, they can become infected. Its symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose and pink eye, along with a red, blotchy rash all over the body.

Now, as several areas in the United States grapple with measles outbreaks, largely because of non-medical exemptions for vaccinations, Kightlinger and other experts point to Madagascar as a dangerous portent.

Throughout the country, private tragedies are playing out because of a lack of vaccine coverage. Health officials here believe that vaccine coverage was at less than 50% at the start of this outbreak because of a weak, underfunded health system, and a failure of routine immunization delivery.

For herd immunity to work -- when enough people are vaccinated that the disease can't get a toe-hold -- coverage needs to be at around 95%.
And for many Malagasy, it isn't through lack of trying.
"We Americans, we have concocted all of these excuses and reasons to be complacent about measles. The people in Madagascar they have busy lives as well. But when they do have vaccine drives, most of them will come out, travel long distances, and sit in the hot sun for their turn," says Kightlinger, who rides a bicycle several miles each week to deliver vaccines to nearby villages.

A stubborn threat
Ironically, some of the complacency in the developed world, is because of the very success of the public health response. The first effective measles vaccine was developed in the early 1960s. Before that, there were an estimated 2.6 million deaths a year from the virus, according to the World Health Organization. In 2017, about 110,000 people died from measles, mostly children younger than 5, the WHO said. But lack of understanding about measles and the rise of anti-vaccination beliefs based on phony science and social-media fueled conspiracy theories has a put a chink in the armor of otherwise well-protected countries such as the United States and France.

In a country like Madagascar, where they Some states allow parents to get out of vaccinations. Then this happens
"It is a question of mentality, because we need to convince those people. Maybe they don't know the reason why we should be vaccinated. Not only people in poor countries are not well educated," says Dr. Andosoa Rakotoarimanana, the director of the Ambohimiandra Children's Hospital in Madagascar's capital.

As the vaccination drive continues, he hopes that the vaccination coverage will get to much higher levels. But routine immunization is still the gold standard and there are still pockets of outbreaks.
This fight isn't over yet.

Jean Claude Nambinintsoa traveled for 24 hours in a mini-bus taxi to get his 15-month-old, Pierrot, to the hospital.
"I was hoping to get him vaccinated," he says as Pierrot clings to his neck, gently caressing his ear, "but when I got here they said that my son already had measles." He says that many children in his village got sick.

Pierrot is dangerously malnourished, his arms lost in the sleeve of his dusty striped shirt. Almost another casualty for a disease that humanity could defeat, but just can't seem to manage.

"It should be a wake-up call for not only for every person, for every health center in Madagascar, but for the whole world. These diseases come back and they clobber us if we are not protected," Kightlinger said. "These are living viruses who are very clever, and they will find us."

Source:   [url]https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/07/health/madagascar-measles-outbreak/index.html[/url
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote FluMom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 08 2019 at 7:47pm
Hey, we have a lot of people on this forum that do not believe in vaccinations. I think vaccinations are a necessity and should be required and now people are learning why they are needed... a hard lesson. Children should not be dying of this in this day and age.    
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NEW TOTAL: ALMOST ONE THOUSAND DEAD AND STILL RISING

News > World > Africa
Measles outbreak kills almost 1,000 children in Madagascar despite emergency vaccination scheme

The Indian Ocean island has Africa’s highest rate of children’s malnutrition, increasing health risk from measles infection

    Stephanie Nebehay
    2 hours ago

Children in Madagascar are living on the brink of poverty while enduring a massive health crisis

Children in Madagascar are living on the brink of poverty while enduring a massive health crisis ( (ARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images) )

At least 922 children and young adults have died of measles in Madagascar since October, despite a huge emergency vaccination program, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

The number of deaths is based on official numbers, but these are likely to be very incomplete, as is the current total of infections, at 66,000, Dr Katrina Kretsinger of WHO’s expanded program on immunization told a news briefing.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause complications including blindness and brain swelling and increase susceptibility to other diseases.

The Indian Ocean island is among Africa’s poorest countries, and in 2017 only 58 per cent of the population had been vaccinated against measles. The lack of a big outbreak since 2003 also means many have had no chance to develop immunity.

An emergency response has vaccinated 2.2 million of the 26 million population so far, Dr Kretsinger said. Some of those had previously been vaccinated but had only received one shot, and so were given the more standard second, “booster” jab.

“We believe that should go a long way toward stemming the current outbreak,” she added.

Madagascar has Africa’s highest children’s malnutrition rate, at 47 per cent. The condition can increase the risk of serious complications and death from measles infection, the WHO says.
Madagascar drought: El Nino leaves 80 percent of people hungry

The disease can also leave children vulnerable to potentially fatal pneumonia or diarrhoeal diseases months later, said Katherine O’Brien, WHO director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals.

Madagascar plans to standardise on a routine two-dose vaccination program later this year.


Source and video:   https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/measles-outbreak-madagascar-children-death-vaccination-health-who-africa-a8780781.html

Reuters

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