WHO: Measles Have Been Officially Eliminated in the Americas
Science| | By Brian Delpozo
Measles have officially been wiped out in the Americas, at least according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO, along with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) released a joint announcement earlier this fall that the disease had been eliminated on both the North and South American continents.
PAHO/WHO director Carissa Etienne said as part of the statement:
“This is a historic day for our region and indeed the world. It is proof of the remarkable success that can be achieved when countries work together in solidarity towards a common goal. It is the result of a commitment made more than two decades ago, in 1994, when the countries of the Americas pledged to end measles circulation by the turn of the 21st century.”
Measles, which causes rashes, cold- and flu-like symptoms, and in more serious cases blindness and death, has been a target of the two organizations for years. It’s now the fifth vaccine-preventable disease to be eliminated from the Americas, following smallpox, polio, rubella, and congenital rubella.
While official elimination in the Americas is obviously a huge turning point, Measles is still dangerous. Several areas of the world, most notably Southeast Asia, are still threatened thanks to difficulty in transporting vaccines to remote areas.
The United States is also still at risk thanks to anti-vaxxers. While it has been proven time and time again that vaccines are safe, this small minority refuses to inoculate their children. By doing so, they put their families and any one they come in contact with at risk, even from an “eliminated” virus.