Measles killed about 5,000 people in 2019 in Congo. Twice as many people died from measles as from Ebola in the past 15 months.
This year, about a quarter of a million people have developed measles in the world. The World Health Organization has called this epidemic the largest in the world and the fastest growing.
In September, the Congo government, together with WHO, launched an emergency vaccination program to build immunity in more than 800,000 children. However, due to undeveloped infrastructures and the lack of access of many to routine health services, the spread of the disease could not be stopped. Four million children, which is half the child population in the country, have not received the vaccine.
The vast majority of measles deaths have been reported among infants whose immune system is too weak to fight the disease.
Measles is a highly contagious viral infection. Symptoms develop between 6 and 19 days after infection, they include a runny nose, cough, lacrimation, fever and a rash. Measles manifests itself as red spots on the body, which eventually turn brown and disappear. In every 15th case, measles can cause life-threatening complications, including pneumonia, convulsions, and encephalitis.