Measles in Ethiopia, Kenya, add to number of 2011 outbreaks
(CBS/AP) A massive measles outbreak has been reported in Kenya and Ethiopia, according the United Nations. This latest report adds to the growing list of measles cases the world has seen this year.
Marixie Mercado, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, said Friday that at least 17,584 people have contracted measles, and 114 have died in Ethiopia this year. A World Health Organization estimate says 2 million Ethiopian children are at risk for contracting the potentially deadly disease.
WHO spokesman Tarek Jasarevic also said at least 462 cases of measles, including 11 deaths, have been confirmed among Somali refugee children in the Kenyan refugee complex known as Dadaab.
The international health body has warned that poor sanitation and constant movement in overcrowded camps and towns, due to drought and violence in East Africa, also increases the risk of other disease outbreaks including cholera, and typhoid fever.
Cases of measles have also popped up in the U.S. this year, where the disease was thought to be eradicated in 2000.
In May the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 118 cases of measles in the U.S. that were most likely caused by a combination of travelers from Europe and vaccine fears that permeate the country. Earlier this year, a measles outbreak hit 33 European countries, infecting tens of thousands of people.
"These outbreaks are due in significant part to children not getting vaccinated," Seth Mnookin, author of "The Panic Virus," said at the time about the increase in U.S. measles cases. "Some parents think the measles vaccine can cause autism, and some just have a general unease about vaccines."
Measles is an extremely contagious disease that spreads through infected air droplets that can linger for up to two hours in closed spaces. It typically causes rashes, fever, muscle pain, pink eye, and sore throat. Vaccines prevent the disease, but there is no treatment besides bed rest and pain medication. Measles can also lead to potentially fatal complications like pneumonia or encephalitis.
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