Mumbai: Measles claims another unvaccinated infant; new pockets detected in M-East, L wards

One more suspected measles death of a six-month-old infant from Sion has been reported in the city on Monday.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Tuesday, January 24, 2023, 01:35 AM IST
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Measles (Representative Image) | NIH Medline Plus

Mumbai: One more suspected measles death of a six-month-old infant from Sion has been reported in the city on Monday.

“The patient had fever with cough following which he developed rashes all over his body. He was admitted to BMC hospital’s ICU on January 7 with difficulty in breathing and put on a ventilator in view of respiratory failure.

However, 16 days later patient saturation levels dropped due to which bag and tube ventilation was started. The patient's condition continued to deteriorate despite resuscitative measures. The infant was declared dead at 4 am on Monday.

“The patient was not vaccinated against measles,” said an official.

Refusal to vaccinate

Despite the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) focusing on measles vaccination aggressively across Mumbai, the new pockets in M-east (Govandi) and L ward (Kurla) are witnessing vaccine refusals. As per the statistics, this year in January, four measles deaths and 34 confirmed cases have been reported. Senior health officials said they have taken all measures to increase measles vaccination but residents in these new pockets refuse to take vaccines. Health experts said residents’ refusal is due to lack of awareness, but parents should understand that vaccines play a vital role in controlling cases.

A senior official from the civic health department said they have come a long way in controlling measles across Mumbai and strict surveillance has helped them to diagnose early cases and start medication. “The outbreak immunisation response campaign helped us to track children who skipped or missed the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). However, despite taking all measures and creating awareness through different modes of communication, some still hesitate to vaccinate their children, as is evident in the newer areas of M-east and L ward.”

“Though all required steps have been taken to increase awareness of the MMR vaccine, some families still need encouragement and counselling to get their children vaccinated. Govandi, once a hotspot for measles and vaccine refusals, has improved in various areas; but newer areas such as Cheetah camp in M-east and L ward are now witnessing new cases and refusal for vaccination,” he said.

Public campaign needed

Infectious disease expert Dr Ishwar Gilada said that there are multiple challenges due to which it is difficult to prevent measles and rubella infections. Lack of awareness among the children and society is the biggest challenge. “Though measles and rubella infections have been in the country for a long time now, there is still a lack of awareness among people. Lack of public campaigns is one of the reasons. India eradicated polio, smallpox and cholera with the help of vigorous public campaigns, such a campaign for measles is absent. This leads to outbreaks in the vicinity of minority communities,” he said.

Dr Gilada added that one of the biggest challenges is vaccine hesitancy as well. “Most of these communities hesitate to get inoculated. For now, the only prevention is the MMR vaccine. Measles is a highly infectious virus originating in the nose and throat of an infected child or adult but it is almost entirely preventable through vaccination. However, it requires 95 per cent vaccine coverage to prevent outbreaks among populations,” he concluded.

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