Despite the fact that there is an effective vaccine for measles, Measles is still one of the leading causes of death among young children. Measles vaccination resulted in 84% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2016 worldwide.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that is spread by coughing, sneezing, close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. The virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to 2 hours. Measles outbreaks can result in epidemics that cause many deaths, especially among young, malnourished children.

Measles incubation period ranges from 10-12 days. The signs and symptoms include high fever, runny nose, coughing, red and watery eyes, and probable small white spots inside the cheek. In few days, a rash erupts on the face and upper neck. In three days, the rash spreads to hands and feet. Then, in 5 to 6 days, the rash starts to fade. Serious complications are more common in children under the age of 5, or adults over the age of 30.

No specific antiviral treatment exists for Measles. Supportive care that ensures good nutrition, adequate fluid intake and treatment of dehydration is recommended. There is a cheap, effective and safe vaccine for measles. Routine vaccination for children and mass immunization campaigns in countries with high case and death rates, are key public health strategies to reduce global measles deaths.

Recent Outbreaks in Africa

Year Countries Cases Deaths
2011 DRC 103
Nigeria 17,428
Zambia 5,397
Ethiopia 2,902