© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Nigeria has fourth highest confirmed cases of measles globally in 2019
SO far in 2019, Nigeria has recorded a total of 24, 994 confirmed cases of measles thereby, securing the fourth position in the world with highest recorded cases of the contagious disease.
This is according to a new measles surveillance data available on the World Health Organisation and published on Monday. The provisional data was based on member countries reports submitted monthly to WHO as of August 2019.
The WHO noted that between January and July 2019, reported measles cases were the highest that had been in any year since 2006.
It listed nine countries – Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan and Thailand- to be experiencing, currently, major measles outbreaks.
Five countries: Madagascar, Ukraine, Philippines, Nigeria and India had reported the highest number of cases this year. Nigeria had 24,994 confirmed cases of measles, preceded by Madagascar with 127,464 cases, Ukraine had 52,246, and the Philippines had 36,253. India number of reported cases was nearly up to Nigeria’s figure with 24,076 measles cases.
Breaking down the figure, in January, Nigeria had 2,983 measles cases, February was 4,905. The March figure was the highest with 7,120 cases. But there was a gradual reduction from April with 5,229, May with 3,536, June with 971 and to July with 250 cases.
The country’s figure skyrocketed in 2019 as each of the whole years of 2015 to 2018 did not reach up to 20,00 cases. In 2015, there were 12,391 confirmed cases of measles. The figures for 2016, 2017, and 2019 were 17581, 11,188 and 7,018 respectively.
Meanwhile, WHO has clarified that the number of reported cases in 2019 reflected a small proportion of the true number of cases occurring in countries. “Many cases do not seek health care or, if diagnosed, are not reported. In addition, there is a one to two month lag time in reporting,” it noted.
For those reasons, WHO said the data provided under-represented the true number of cases, particularly those occurring in the last one to two months.
The global health agency said the largest outbreaks were in countries with low measles vaccination coverage, currently or in the past, which had left large numbers of people vulnerable to the disease.
“In a number of countries, measles is spreading among older children, youth and adults who have missed out on vaccination in the past,” it said.
Nigeria had the highest number of unvaccinated children under one year of age against measles in 2017, according to a UNICEF coverage report on Vaccine in April. It estimated that about four million Nigerian children missed out the first dose of measles vaccine that year.
The WHO identified the reasons why people were not being vaccinated to include lack of access to quality healthcare or vaccination services, conflict and displacement, misinformation about vaccines and low awareness about the need to vaccinate.
As measles is one of the world’s most contagious diseases, the best protection against the disease is through receiving two doses of the measles vaccine described as “a safe and highly effective vaccine”.
“High rates of vaccination coverage – 95 per cent nationally and within communities – are needed to ensure that measles is unable to spread,” said the WHO.
Measles caused approximately 110,000 deaths in 2017 all over the world.
The first sign of measles is usually a high fever, which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus and lasts four to seven days.
Later the symptom would develop to a runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks. After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck.
Serious complications are more common in children under the age of 5, or adults over the age of 30, especially malnourished young children and HIV/AIDS patients.
Health complications resulted from measles include blindness, swelling of the brain (encephalitis), severe diarrhoea, ear infections, and Pneumonia.
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Nigeria has recorded 89 deaths as a result of measles as of May 12. The latest NCDC situation report on measles released on May 18 noted that Borno State has the highest number of the diseases followed by Katsina, Yobe, Kano and Kaduna.