US sees rise in cases of measles

The measles virus is highly contagious and can lead to deadly complications. (Reuters)
Updated 15 April 2019
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US sees rise in cases of measles

  • 555 cases of the disease have been recorded since the beginning of the year
  • The US declared that measles had been eliminated from the country in 2000

WASHINGTON: The number of confirmed cases of measles in the US this year jumped by nearly 20 percent in the week ended April 11 in the country’s second-worst outbreak in nearly two decades, federal health officials reported.

As of April 11, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 555 cases of the disease since the beginning of the year, up from 465 cases confirmed by April 4. The cases were found in 20 states spanning the country.

The measles virus is highly contagious and can lead to deadly complications, particularly in children. The CDC report did not say whether there have been any fatalities.

A growing and vocal fringe of parents in the United States oppose measles vaccines believing, contrary to scientific evidence, that ingredients in the vaccines can cause autism or other disorders.

The US declared that measles had been eliminated from the country in 2000, meaning the virus is no longer present year-round. But outbreaks still happen each year, typically when unvaccinated people travel to the country from parts of the world where the disease is still common.

New York City has recorded at least 285 cases of measles since October, according to local health officials, the large majority among members of the Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn.

Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the outbreak a public health emergency last week and ordered unvaccinated people in the affected parts of Brooklyn to get the vaccine or face a fine. It is the worst outbreak seen in the city since 1991, the mayor said.

Most of the Brooklyn cases are among children. Several people had to be hospitalized but no fatalities had been reported as of last week.

New York health officials said the Brooklyn outbreak was caused by an unvaccinated child returning from a trip to Israel, which is also grappling with an outbreak.

Health officials say they have seen anti-vaccination pamphlets containing misinformation being distributed in the affected parts of Brooklyn.

Another outbreak has hit Orthodox Jewish families in New York’s Rockland County. Officials there banned children not vaccinated against measles from public spaces last month.

That order was overturned by a state judge, a decision being appealed by Rockland officials.


Mali's prime minister steps down as anger mounts over massacre

Updated 11 min 58 sec ago
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Mali's prime minister steps down as anger mounts over massacre

BAMAKO, Mali: Mali’s prime minister resigned along with his entire government on Thursday following criticism over their handling of an upsurge of violence in the center of the country and a massacre last month that left 160 people dead.
A statement from President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s office said he had accepted Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga’s resignation, along with those of his ministers, two weeks after mass protests erupted over the rising tide of violence.
Lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties had submitted a motion of no confidence against the government on Wednesday, blaming Maiga and his administration for failing to clamp down on the unrest.
“A prime minister will be named very soon and a new government will be put in place after consultations with all political forces” from both the ruling and opposition sides, the statement from Keita’s office said.
The president had on Tuesday said in a televised address that he had “heard the anger,” without explicitly naming the prime minister.
The government had come under mounting pressure over its handling of violence in the restive Mopti region and especially a massacre on March 23 in which 160 people were killed in the village of Ogossagou near the border with Burkina Faso.
Members of the Dogon ethnic group — a hunting and farming community with a long history of tension with the nomadic Fulani people over access to land — were accused of being behind the mass killing.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Bamako on April 5 to protest against the upsurge of violence, accusing the government of not doing enough to stop it.
The protest was called by Muslim religious leaders, organizations representing the Fulani herding community, opposition parties and civil society groups.
Mali has been struggling to restore stability since Islamist extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the country’s vast desert north in early 2012.
While the jihadists were largely driven out in a French-led military operation that began in January 2013, huge areas are still in the grip of lawlessness, despite a 2015 peace agreement with some armed groups that sought to definitively stamp out the Islamist threat.
Since then, militants have shifted from the north toward the more densely populated center of the country, where they have sharpened ancient rivalries and ethnic conflicts that date back years.
Jihadist attacks have also spread to Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.