The United Nations has reported that measles outbreaks in Ethiopia and Kenya have killed dozens of children and sickened thousands of others. Measles are spread through contact with droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of an infected person and symptoms include bloodshot eyes, cough, fever, light sensitivity, muscle pain, and rash.
UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said yesterday that at least 17,584 measles cases were reported by Ethiopian officials in the first half of the year. The outbreaks have resulted in 114 deaths.
World Health Organization spokesman Tarek Jasarevic said that at least 462 measles cases have been found in recent months in Somali refugee children in the Kenyan refugee complex known as Dadaab. 11 of these children are now deceased.
Jasarevic said that 2 million Ethiopian children are at risk of contracting the virus. The measles virus results from poor sanitation and living conditions such as overcrowded camps and towns.
The World Health Organization warned of increased risk of disease outbreaks in the Horn of Africa, saying that they are concerned about the spread of measles and water-borne diseases like acute watery diarrhea in Ethiopia and Kenya and that infectious illnesses are spreading in the Horn of Africa. The World Health Organization also said that outbreaks will increase in frequency because of population movements in areas affected by droughts, poor health care systems, no clean water, and inadequate sanitation.
It was prevoiusly thought that measles were largely eradicted in the US due to a widespread vaccine. However, the CDC has announced that May saw 118 new measles cases, largely a result of travel. The CDC also fears that increases in autism rates have resulted from the measles vaccine.