Friday, July 19, 2019

Adding to ebola in the Congo and region, measles

is running wild.
As the world anxiously monitors the outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo, health officials note that a measles outbreak declared last month in the country has killed more people—mostly children—and faster.

Since January 2019, officials have recorded over 100,000 measles cases in the DRC, mostly in children, and nearly 2,000 have died. The figures surpass those of the latest Ebola outbreak in the country, which has tallied not quite 2,500 cases and 1,665 deaths since August 2018. The totals were noted by World Health Organization Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a speech today, July 15, at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.

Also, remember what Peter Grant had in his post about trying to check people for ebola? 
Though he began experiencing symptoms while in Butembo, he traveled by bus to Goma on July 12 with 18 other people. The bus passed through three health checkpoints on its way, but the pastor showed no symptoms and gave different names at each checkpoint. This is possibly because he was trying to conceal his identity and health status, officials said.
If this doesn't get horrendously worse before it gets better, I'll be surprised.

1 comment:

markm said...

If Africans lack the natural resistance that most Europeans have, this could be very bad. Unlike Ebola, people infected with measles are shedding the virus days before the first symptoms appear, and it can live 2 hours outside the body - you don't even have come into sight of the infected person to catch it, so contact tracing and quarantine is often ineffective. In populations with no previous measles cases, one case can infect a whole community before he looks or feels sick, and over half of those infected die.

Measles is one of the biggest reasons most of the native American civilizations collapsed before white men even reached them - the disease ran ahead of the first explorers and killed so many that the civilizations could not sustain themselves, leaving mainly the hunter-gatherer tribes, who spent much of the year spread too thinly to spread epidemics. (But measles and other European epidemics also got them in the long run - people want to gather the tribe together at least once a year, and all it took was one man who was coming down with measles at that gathering.)

Measles haven't affected Europeans that way in many centuries, because it's always been around, and over 90% of adults survived it and are immune. It can spread like wildfire among children, but most of them have some resistance to start with and don't become deathly ill, and there's never a shortage of immune adults to tend the ill.

Assuming there's been no previous exposure in parts of Africa, unless the doctors can get ahead of the disease with vaccinations - and that's difficult in most of Africa - a lot of people are going to die.