The Regional Health Agency of the region of New Aquitaine warns about measles: 16 cases have been identified at the university and 77 in the region since November 2017. It is too much for a disease that should have disappeared with MMR vaccination, very tolerated and very effective. Especially as she returns by touching young adults.
According to the Regional Health Agency of New Aquitaine, 16 cases of measles were recorded in December on the university campus of Bordeaux and 38 new cases in the entire Bordeaux agglomeration. In total, 77 cases have been reported since November 2017, including 12 hospitalizations.
Measles is an infectious disease caused by a highly contagious virus that previously mainly affected small children from 5-6 months of age. This is no longer the case: one-third of reported cases involve people over 15 years of age. However, cases of measles in adults are potentially more dangerous.
Germs strike groups
Measles is an infectious disease of viral origin, eruptive and highly contagious, linked to a "paramyxovirus". It is transmitted mainly by air, for example when a contagious patient coughs, it sends into the air micro-droplets of saliva infected with viruses. It is also possible to contract measles after contact with a surface contaminated by nasal secretions and sputum.
To spread, the virus likes promiscuity, meetings. What is more favorable than a student campus? It is from that of the university campus that left the epidemic Bordeaux. The contagious phase starts the day before the appearance of the first symptoms and extends until 5 days after the onset of the appearance of the pimples. Thus, a contaminated person, according to specialists, contaminates 15 to 20 others.
Only protection: vaccination
The only way to avoid getting measles is to get vaccinated. Highly effective, vaccination is only contraindicated in allergy to egg white, immunocompromised, and during pregnancy.
Traditionally, the vaccination schedule consists of injecting a dose of MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) at 12 months and a second injection between 16 and 18 months. For people who have never been vaccinated against measles, catch-up is possible. It consists of injecting two doses of vaccine at least one month apart.
In the event of an epidemic, it is possible to receive the vaccine up to 72 hours after having been in contact with a person suffering from measles to avoid the occurrence of the disease (catch-up vaccination).
A failure of vaccine policy in France
In 1980, before vaccination became widespread, there were 600 000 cases of measles in France. The current measles epidemic shows that France is still endemic to measles and is not immune to a new epidemic of magnitude because the infection map of 2017 shows that the diagnoses are distributed more homogeneously across the territory.
The scenario of an epidemic is all the more credible as the vaccination coverage is too low. Only 79% of 2-year-olds are vaccinated. However, with a virus of contagiousness level of the "paramyxovirus" of measles, it would be necessary to reach 95% of vaccination coverage to prevent any circulation of the virus in France.
Vaccine coverage needed in Europe
France is far from isolated in the face of this resurgence of measles. Our Italian, Belgian and German neighbors have faced a sharp rise in cases. Further east, Romania must also fight a very active epidemic.
In Europe, a measles elimination plan was therefore put in place between 2005 and 2010. Elimination is when no epidemic - even a small one - takes place for a year or more. It is based on vaccination, hence the logic of vaccination obligation in France from 2018.
Measles is not a mild disease
The Regional Health Agency of New Aquitaine states that of the 77 cases recorded since November 2017, twelve led to hospitalization, more than one in six! During the 2011 outbreak in France, more than 15,000 people were infected and 10 deaths were recorded. Since 2008, more than 23,000 cases of measles have been reported in France and more than 1,000 cases of measles have led to complications and sequelae.
Measles can get complicated, especially in infants or frail people, and lead to hospitalization. It is first of all a pneumonia in connection with a superinfection by a bacterium. This is a serious lung infection that can lead the patient to resuscitation. It is then a risk of viral infection of the brain ("encephalitis"). These complications can lead to death and give pulmonary and neurological sequelae for life.
Necessary mobilization of families and doctors
In view of this situation, Public Health France recommends that families and health professionals be vigilant. Measles has become a notifiable disease in France. In the face of measles, the immunization schedule of relatives should be systematically checked. If the schema is incomplete, a catch-up vaccination or post-exposure prophylaxis will stop the spread of the virus.
For almost 15 years, surveillance has reduced the number of cases and reduced spring epidemic peaks. The cases of the Region-Aquitaine show that these efforts are being erased by the resistance of some to vaccination ... while the MMR vaccine does not even contain aluminum.