BLOG #5: Measles Threat Looms in West Africa Following Ebola Outbreak
According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola outbreak has killed well over 10,000 people in West Africa, particularly in the countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The number of deaths has dramatically decreased in these areas due to efforts of soldiers and medical professionals sent from the United States, Great Britain, and other nations. However, a new threat looms over West Africa. The measles virus has the potential to be an even bigger threat to Africa than Ebola. There has been a drop in the amount of children getting vaccinated in West Africa. “It’s so transmissible, and it’s one of the first diseases you often see when there are crises leading to reduction in the vaccination rates,” stated Justin Lessler of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. There are more than 1.1 million unvaccinated children due to the Ebola outbreak. Also, the measles virus is highly contagious and an outbreak could be very devastating. Researchers say that if an outbreak of measles occurred in West Africa, there could be as many as 227,000 cases and up to 16,000 deaths resulting from the virus, surpassing the total amount of deaths caused by the Ebola outbreak. Most of the victims of the potential outbreak would be young children. A global response is more than likely to be slow as it was with the Ebola outbreak. A measles outbreak could affect more than 200,000 people in West Africa. It is difficult for researchers to predict when a measles outbreak will occur, where it will occur, and how long the outbreak will last.
I am terrified that West Africa is at risk of yet another outbreak. Ebola has already claimed many lives and inflicted a great amount of devastation. I cannot imagine what a measles outbreak could bring. West Africa’s health-care systems are already fragile and nearly wiped out due to the Ebola outbreak. Not to mention, many West African children are unvaccinated. The amount of young lives taken from the measles virus could be catastrophic.
March 17, 2015