A new report published in Science shows that up to 300,000 additional people could contract measles this year due to the West African Ebola crisis. The report, release in March, based its statistics on vaccination rates throughout the region, and it projected that anywhere from 2,000 to 16,000 measles-related deaths could occur.
According to the report, before the Ebola outbreak, 900,000 people were at risk for contracting measles in the region. After 18 months of limited vaccinations, more than 1.2 million people could now contract measles. A significant measles outbreak could portend thousands more deaths, taking yet another toll on the region.
“The secondary effects of Ebola — both in childhood infections and other health outcomes — are potentially as devastating in terms of loss of life as the disease itself,” said study leader Justin Lessler, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a release. “While the downstream effects of Ebola are many, we can actually do something about measles relatively cheaply and easily, saving many lives by restarting derailed vaccination campaigns.”