Mexico issues health alert for imported measles

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A minor infected with measles after returning from a family trip to Europe has triggered health alerts in Mexico, as it is a highly contagious and potentially serious, even deadly virus that was believed to be eliminated.

The child was admitted to the ‘Federico Gómez’ Children’s Hospital in Mexico where they stabilized him over the weekend. In addition, health authorities began investigating and tracing previous contacts due to its rapid spread.

It spreads through the air or by direct contact with droplets of saliva and mucus expelled when coughing, sneezing, or talking with the infected person.

While it is important to emphasize that this is an imported case of measles in Mexico, the notification is relevant in light of the epidemiological alert issued on January 29, 2024, by the World Health Organization (WHO), which reported an increase in cases around the world. There was an increase from 171,000 positive cases in 2022 to more than 280,000 in 2023, that is, a 64 percent increase.

‘A person with measles can efficiently infect up to 18 people, while a person with COVID-19, for example, can infect up to 2.5 people. The difference is very large. And it is concerning because measles is preventable with vaccination,’ explained Jorge Baruch Díaz Ramírez, head of the UNAM Traveler’s Preventive Care Clinic.

Therefore, the General Directorate of Epidemiology published, on February 15, 2024, a preventive travel notices for measles at a global level and data on how ‘measles can cause various complications and even death.’

The imported case of the minor is also relevant due to the low coverage in basic vaccination schedules.

Vaccination coverage went from 84.7 to 35.8 percent from 2006 to 2021 among children under two years old, which means that about seven out of every ten infants lack complete vaccination schedules against preventable diseases, according to Eduardo Arias, a pediatric infectious disease specialist attached to the Pediatric Infectology Service of the National Institute of Pediatrics (INP).

The last measles epidemic in the country occurred between 1989 and 1990 with about 89,163 autochthonous cases, meaning they were infected within the national territory.

The last case of autochthonous measles in Mexico was reported in 1995. This means that it was transmitted locally. Since then, the cases that have appeared have been imported, meaning the virus was acquired outside the country.

During 2019, in Mexico, according to the General Directorate of Epidemiology, 5,163 probable cases of measles or rubella were reported, of which 20 were confirmed to measles, all related to importation.

In 2020, 2,518 probable cases of measles or rubella were reported, of which 196 cases were confirmed to measles, ‘with an unknown source of infection,’ according to the epidemiological notice of February 8, 2024, from the National Committee for Epidemiological Surveillance.

Then, between 2021 and 2023, no confirmed cases were reported, and in the first weeks of 2024, ‘a total of 140 probable cases of measles or rubella were reported, without the results from Indre being disclosed.

Source: Milenio