WHY IT MATTERS
Measles is a highly contagious virus, spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. When one person has measles, 90 percent of the people they come into close contact with will become infected, if they are not already immune. Being immune means someone has been vaccinated or has previously contracted the disease. The symptoms include a high fever, severe skin rash and cough.
In 2000, before the Measles & Rubella Initiative was formed, more than 562,000 children died worldwide from measles complications each year. Measles weakens the immune system and opens the door to secondary health problems, such as pneumonia, blindness, diarrhea, and encephalitis. Approximately 30 percent of reported measles cases have one or more complications. These debilitating effects are most common in children under five and adults over twenty. Poor children are more likely to be malnourished and have severe complications from measles. Even if a child recovers, he or she can be left with permanent disabilities.
While significant progress has been made thanks to the Measles & Rubella Initiative and its supporters, in 2012 measles still killed an estimated 122,000 children per year – mostly children less than five years of age. That means approximately 330 die from measles-related complications each day, or 14 deaths every hour. Yet measles can be completely prevented with two doses of a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine.