Madagascar measles epidemic kills over 1,200 people
Madagascar is currently facing the largest measles outbreak in its history, as cases have grown beyond 115,000, according to AP.
Only 58 percent of people on the main island have been vaccinated against the disease, a huge reason for its recent spread. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported the outbreak has impacted mostly children under the age of 15 since it began in September. AP says more than 1,200 people have died over the past seven months.
“The epidemic unfortunately continues to expand in size, though at a slower pace than a month ago,” Dr. Dossou Vincent Sodjinou, a WHO epidemiologist in Madagascar, told AP.
Measles is a contagious virus that spreads through the air via coughing and sneezing. Symptoms including a high fever, rash, stuffy nose, reddened eyes and the Mayo Clinic says it usually takes 10-14 days after exposure to see them.
Some waiting rooms have been full as volunteer nurses try to help out with the demand of sick patients. AP reported that 50 percent of children in Madagascar are malnourished due to economic reasons, a major reason for the epidemic. Many parents aren’t aware that vaccines are free because the area lacks health information.