Measles, boom in cases in Italy among children, symptoms and how to recognize it

Measles is a very contagious infectious disease caused by a virus of the morbillivirus genus.
It is a disease that is defined as infantile because it mainly affects pediatric age as well as chickenpox, whooping cough, rubella and mumps.
Almost 50 years have passed since the measles vaccine was discovered and the bad news is that the 2023 data on the number of cases in Europe and Asia are not comforting.
Judging by the data arriving from Unicef, in 2023 over 30,000 cases were confirmed in Europe and Central Asia compared to 909 in 2002.
This means an increase of 3,266% in the space of 20 years.
Among the reasons that have caused the disease to resume circulation in Italy too is the low immunization of children.
If this is below 95% the virus starts circulating again.
The latest data arriving from the Ministry of Health highlights how in Italy, 93.85% of children have received the first dose within 24 months of life.
And it even reaches 85.64% for recalls after 5 years.
A reminder that should be made considering the school age which increases the risk of contagion.
Therefore, especially for the second dose, the coverage is below the optimal numbers and for this reason the measles can resume circulation.
Considering that it is a very contagious virus with one positive that can infect 15 others, the numbers are growing.
At a regional level, Lazio is the most virtuous one where the first dose administered is 97%.
In Calabria and Sicily the figure reaches 89% while in the autonomous province of Bolzano it stands at 71%.
The covid period also caused immunization to decline when all efforts were concentrated on the vaccine against the virus that resulted in a pandemic.
In that period between 2020 and 2021, 88 countries reduced the quality of measles notifications and there was a collapse in measles prophylaxis.
For example, in 2021 only 81% of children received their first dose.
This is 5 million fewer children than those vaccinated in the pre-covid year.
Symptoms and how to recognize measles The origin of the measles disease is a virus belonging to the morbillivirus family.
It is one of the diseases with the highest transmissibility index.
The infection is transmitted through the dispersion, by sick individuals, of drops of infected saliva when coughing or sneezing.
Symptoms last 10 to 20 days and are generally not serious.
The contagiousness lasts up to five days after the disappearance of the skin rashes typical of the disease.
Once you contract measles, your body is theoretically immunized for life.
The first symptoms are similar to those of the flu with cough, cold, red eyes and fever which can even be high and reach 40°.
Subsequently, white dots may appear inside the mouth and after 3-4 days also the red skin rashes typical of the disease.
However, the disease can also lead to serious complications.
The most frequent are ear infections, ear inflammation, laryngitis, bacterial bronchopneumonia and interstitial pneumonia.
The rarest are acute encephalitis, inflammation of the brain, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.
Mortality is estimated at 2 cases per 1,000.
The only way to prevent measles is with vaccination.
In Italy it occurs by administering a vaccine complex, known by the acronym "MPR", which includes measles, mumps and rubella.
The first dose is given before the second year of age and the booster dose is taken around 5-6 years of age.
read also Measles alert, there is a boom in cases: symptoms, vaccine and risks for adults

Author: Hermes A.I.

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