SEP 06, 2022 7:47 AM PDT

Measles Outbreak in Zimbabwe Kills Nearly 700 Children

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Measles is one of the most infectious viruses in the world, and can spread through close contact with an infected person, who coughs or sneezes infectious, airborne droplets that can infect others. A measles outbreak in Zimbabwe has been worsening over the past few months, and authorities have now said that 698 children have died from the viral illness. Over 6,000 measles cases have been confirmed by the health ministry since the outbreak began in April; it started in the eastern part of the country, and has now spread to all parts of the nation of about 15 million people.

A digitally-colorized TEM image of a single measles virus particle, with the viral nucleocapsid situated underneath the viral envelope, surrounded by surface projections. / Credit: CDC/ Cynthia S. Goldsmith; William Bellini, Ph.D.

It's been estimated that about 90 percent of a population has to be immunized to stop measles outbreaks. Measles can cause fever, coughing, and a skin rash. Many people recover, but it hits children and malnourished people especially hard, and their risk of death is much higher when they are not vaccinated.

Anti-vaxxination sentiment is high in Zimbabwe, where religious sects that are distrustful of modern medicine are popular. Some citizens are advocating for mandatory vaccination as the death toll rises. Others are encouraging the government to embark on mass vaccination campaigns that focus on those who are anti-vaccine because of their religion. The anti-vaxxination, Christian groups have encouraged their followers to avoid medicine and turn to self-proclaimed prophets if they experience health problems.

While measles vaccinations slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Zimbabwean government did continue to offer measles vaccines during that time.

After pandemic restrictions were lifted, a resumption of religious gatherings are thought to have spread measles to areas that had not previously been affected.

When the health ministry initially announced the measles outbreak about two weeks ago, they noted that of the 157 children that had died by that point, most were not vaccinated due to religious beliefs in their families.

Dr. Johannes Marisa, the president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association, told The Associated Press that due to vaccine hesitancy, "education may not be enough" and the government must consider other measures, including legislation that makes vaccines mandatory, so no one is able to refuse vaccination for their children, said Marisa.

UNICEF is aiding in the efforts to increase immunizations, and the Zimbabwean government has initiated efforts to vaccinate children between the ages of 6 months and 15 years. They are hoping that faith leaders will support this work.

UNICEF is also voicing concern about the estimated 25 million children around the world who missed routine immunizations against common diseases because of the pandemic.

Sources: AFP, Medical Express via Associated Press

 

About the Author
BS
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
SEP 22, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Human Protein Crucial to Infection & Disease is Discovered
SEP 22, 2022
Human Protein Crucial to Infection & Disease is Discovered
The pandemic virus SARS-CoV-2 caused many scientists to begin studying infectious disease, in search of ways to stop the ...
SEP 28, 2022
Microbiology
Humans and Our Gut Microbes Evolved Together
SEP 28, 2022
Humans and Our Gut Microbes Evolved Together
We each carry thousands of different species of microorganisms in our gastrointestinal tracts, and that gut microbiome h ...
OCT 18, 2022
Immunology
T Cell Deficiency Leaves Some Vulnerable to Infection
OCT 18, 2022
T Cell Deficiency Leaves Some Vulnerable to Infection
The mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) bacteria can be found everywhere, so almost everyone breathes some of it in occasi ...
OCT 08, 2022
Plants & Animals
Genomic Research Could Help Better Treat Certain Fungal Infections
OCT 08, 2022
Genomic Research Could Help Better Treat Certain Fungal Infections
Fungi can cause a range of infections and problems for humans. However, despite the fact that we encounter and inhale fu ...
NOV 02, 2022
Microbiology
RSV & Influenza Can Combine to Form a New, Hybrid Virus
NOV 02, 2022
RSV & Influenza Can Combine to Form a New, Hybrid Virus
While different strains of influenza virus can co-infect cells and form hybrid flus, virus co-infections have tended to ...
NOV 25, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Antibiotics for Acne May Impair Bone Development in Teens
NOV 25, 2022
Antibiotics for Acne May Impair Bone Development in Teens
Long-term antibiotic use to treat adolescent acne disrupts the gut microbiome and impairs bone maturation. The correspon ...
Loading Comments...