Mumbai: The sudden outbreak of measles in the city a few weeks ago has left doctors wondering about the pattern of the disease. At a two-day workshop organised by UNICEF, medical practitioners highlighted that cases of measles usually peak during winter in the months of December and January. However, this year the outbreak occurred in October.
Doctors said that the disease takes an ugly turn usually after 14 days when the affected child develops pneumonia. However, in the current outbreak, affected children are developing pneumonia within the first week itself.
Dr Arun Gaikwad, who heads the BMC’s measles immunisation drive, said they have seen children even developing bronchopneumonia within seven days of contracting the infection. He said, “There is usually an outbreak by December-end or January. But this time it occurred before winter which is a matter of concern and we need to understand the major cause of this atypical outbreak.”
Though experts ruled out a genetic mutation in the measles-causing virus in Mumbai, they agreed with the plan to conduct a sero survey to check the presence of antibodies in communities.
Dr Ashish Chauhan, Health Specialist, UNICEF India, said, “Measles is a ‘tracer’ of strength of the immunisation system. When immunisation coverage is low, measles is the fastest vaccine preventable disease to return.”
Dr Chauhan said there’s an “urgent need to plan a boost vaccination through social mobilisation and address vaccine hesitancy.”
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