One of the most contagious viral and infectious diseases is measles. While there are available cost-effective and safe vaccines, the disease still was able to wreak havoc in many countries around the world. According to the World Health Organization, measles claimed the lives of 110,000 persons around the world in 2017.

Today, WHO reports that cases of measles continue to increase worldwide as outbreaks of the disease were declared in several countries. Among the places that were reported to have measles outbreaks are countries within Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

The UN health body, in an update made Wednesday, said that over 250,000 suspected cases had been reported in Congo this year. Approximately 5,100 persons, mostly children, have already died as a result.

Around 56,000 suspected measles cases have also been reported in Ukraine, and WHO also revealed large outbreaks were happening in Bangladesh, Brazil, and in many other countries. The health body said that New York experienced two sizable measles epidemics, but it has been declared under control and seems to be over. In other places in the US, however, small outbreaks continue to happen.

measles outbreak
measles outbreak tumisu - Pixabay

According to the World Health Organization, over 440,200 cases of measles have been reported to them by their personnel on the ground as of November 5. Comparatively, there were only about 350,000 cases of the disease worldwide in 2018.

The virus that causes measles belongs to the paramyxovirus family. Identified as the rubeola virus, it thrives in the mucus of the nose and throat of infected persons. It is highly contagious for the first four days, after which rashes will show. It will continue to be contagious four to five days after rashes appeared.

The viral disease attacks the respiratory tract before spreading in other parts of the body. It is known to occur only in humans, and so far, no animals have been reported to have been afflicted by the disease.

The WHO has advised those in the medical profession to be aware of measles signs and symptoms, as well as the groups deemed to be at higher risk. Like most diseases, early detection is important to prevent a host of other complications like otitis media, convulsions, pneumonia, encephalitis, or worse, death from happening.

Signs and symptoms to watch out for include having temperatures over 39 degrees Celsius, suffering from cough and cold, and have koplik spots or white spots in the mouth. A maculopapular rash that begins on the face and conjunctivitis are also indications that a person may be suffering from measles.