At least 40 children in India have died this year due to measles and around 10,000 kids were affected by the disease, junior health minister Bharati Pravin Pawar informed the Parliament recently in reply to a question. Maharashtra, Pawar said, has witnessed maximum number (3,075) of measles cases and 13 deaths due to the disease, followed by Jharkhand where 2,683 cases and eight deaths have been confirmed. Gujarat, Haryana, Bihar and Kerala have reported 1,650, 1,537, 1,276 and 196 cases, respectively. The number of deaths reported by Gujarat, Haryana and Bihar stands at nine, three and seven, respectively.
Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads through coughing and sneezing. There is no specific anti-viral treatment for measles; only vaccines are available to prevent disease.
Last month, the Centre had advised the Maharashtra government to administer an additional vaccine dose of measles and rubella containing vaccine (MRCV) to all children aged between nine months to five years in areas where there had been a recent increase in measles cases in the state. This dose would be in addition to the primary vaccination schedule of first dose at 9-12 months and second dose at 16-24 months.
The government also recommended one dose of MRCV to be administered to all children who are six to nine months old if measles cases in the younger age group are above 10 percent of the total cases in any region.
The central teams deployed noted the need for further strengthening disease surveillance activities, ramping up immunisation with measles-containing vaccines, managing vaccine hesitancy through intensive community awareness to cover all un-immunised children, improving case management through timely detection, she added.