Key facts about the measles epidemic that everyone needs to know…

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History of the fight against measles (Latin morbilli)

Currently, more and more often we hear about such a terrible and formidable disease – measles. This is one of those diseases that mankind has faced since the Middle Ages and which had a great impact on the size (mortality) of the population.

Only in 1954 was the measles virus isolated, and in 1963 a measles vaccine was developed and licensed. From that moment began the program for the global eradication of measles worldwide. WHO measles interventions (mass vaccination) resulted in a 79% reduction in global measles deaths between 2000 and 2014, almost fivefold.

By 2015, it was planned to reduce measles deaths by 95% (20 times) compared to 2000, and by 2020 to completely eliminate measles in at least five WHO regions. However, these targets were not achieved due to the fact that in recent years the level of vaccination against measles has fallen sharply, especially in some population groups in several European countries.

Measles is out of control again: the situation in Europe

According to Rospotrebnadzor, the European Region is currently experiencing an unprecedented increase in the incidence of measles over the past 10 years.

There are 37 deaths reported. The most affected countries are Ukraine and Georgia. Over the past year alone, in Ukraine, the indicator was 849 patients with measles per 1 million, in Georgia – 396 patients per 1 million population, in Montenegro – 324 patients per 1 million population, in Greece – 261 patients per 1 million population, in Romania – 84 patients per 1 million population, in Moldova – 77 patients per 1 million population, in France – 43 patients per 1 million population, in Italy 42 patients per 1 million population.

In 2019, the unfavorable situation continues to worsen. Due to the measles epidemic, Poland intends to ban the entry of unvaccinated citizens of Ukraine. According to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, only for the period from December 28, 2018 to January 3, 2019, 2,305 people fell ill in the country. On January 18, 2019, the Ministry of Health of Georgia announced a measles epidemic, where more than 300 cases of infection were registered in 2 weeks.

The situation with measles in Russia

In the Russian Federation, unlike European countries, the measles situation is still stable, despite the increase in the number of cases. Systemically carried out preventive measures, the main of which is the immunization of the population, can prevent the spread of infection. Vaccination coverage of the country’s population (both children and adults) of more than 95% ensures the containment of existing risks in the context of the epidemic spread of measles in the European Region.

However, cases of measles in Russia are registered, mainly among unvaccinated individuals who did not receive vaccinations due to refusal, medical contraindications, or in the absence of a permanent place of residence.

In any case, 80% of measles cases in Russia do not spread due to a high immune layer and timely measures.

The measles incidence rate in our country in 2018 was 17.3 cases per 1 million people. Most cases of measles are associated with the importation of infection from abroad.

Measles vaccination in Russia

In Russia, there is a National Measles Programme, the task of which is the complete destruction of this disease in the territory of the Russian Federation. Vaccination against measles is included in the national calendar of mandatory vaccinations. It is performed on children who have not had measles at the age of 12 months. The second vaccination (revaccination) is carried out at the age of 6 years (before school). It is possible to introduce both monovaccines (only against measles), and di – and trivaccines (against measles, mumps and rubella).

Since 2011, measles vaccination has been introduced into the national vaccination schedule for the adult population up to 35 years of age, and employees of sectors at risk – up to 55 years of age (educators, healthcare workers, trade workers, utilities and social workers, etc.). Vaccination is safe and helps to avoid the development of serious complications and deaths. Every adult should have a record of 2 vaccinations against measles.

Measles quarantine in Moscow

As of January 31, 2019, according to Rospotrebnadzor, 2 foci of measles disease were registered in Moscow among schoolchildren who were not vaccinated against measles, including due to the refusal of parents to carry out preventive vaccinations. In connection with the registration of measles foci, anti-epidemic measures were taken in schools, and the anti-epidemic regime was strengthened. Medical supervision of students and employees who were in contact with sick children was organized. Immunization against measles is carried out according to epidemic indications. Restrictive measures have been introduced in schools for a period of 21 days: mass events have been cancelled, children and adolescents who have not been vaccinated or sick with measles in an educational institution are also suspended from visiting the institution for a period of 21 days.

Restrictive measures have been introduced only in those buildings of educational organizations where cases of measles have been registered. In one of the schools of the East Administrative Okrug, according to the results of examinations, including laboratory diagnostics, a case of measles in a schoolchild was not confirmed, and the previously introduced restrictive measures in this school were canceled from 01/30/2019.

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