Ebola Could Lead to Measles Epidemic in West Africa March 26, 2015 By Will Sowards Leave a Comment 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.” But, with so many people still wary of healthcare facilities and many others living in outlying areas, it is unclear how effective these campaigns will be. Groups like Shot@Life are working to help increase vaccination rates throughout Africa, but their work is made even more challenging by the fears that surround travel to West Africa at present. The Ebola-Measles Relationship Before Ebola outbreak- 126,000 likely measles victims 18 months after Ebola outbreak- 227,000 likely measles victims After a vaccination campaign- 120,000 likely measles victims Source: Science Measles and other infectious diseases tend to become threats after major events like natural disasters, political upheavals, and widespread outbreaks like Ebola. The Caribbean nation of Haiti, for example, is just beginning to recover from a cholera outbreak that started nearly 10 years ago after the massive earthquake that rocked the country, and embroiled nations like Pakistan and Syria are having trouble containing polio which has been all but eradicated in other regions of the world. Researchers believe that the Ebola outbreak will have many long term effects. An article published in The New England Journal of Medicine said that many West African nations will continue to suffer ill effects including higher child mortality and a rise in malaria, tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS infections. Making the situation even more problematic, the World Bank believes that these nations are facing significant economic issues due to labor force problems, potentially leading to near zero economic growth. If you plan on traveling to one of the affected countries, be sure to consult with a Passport Health Travel Specialist. Many shots to prevent diseases like measles, yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis are recommended or required for the region, and your travel health specialists can provide you with other tips to help ensure a safe trip. What do you think would be the best way to help combat measles in West Africa? Comment below, on our Facebook page or via Twitter with your thoughts.