A resurgence of measles among those already immunised against the disease has spurred doctors to suggest that children should be given an additional dose of the vaccine.
To study the reasons for the disease’s resurgence, the immunisation department of the state’s directorate of health services has asked doctors to notify every suspected case among children and adults to the government.
Sources in the health department said the state government was looking at a campaign similar to the polio immunisation programme to control and, if possible, eradicate measles.
In Mumbai, health workers have been asked to conduct surveillance to detect more cases if there are more than five suspected patients in a civic ward. The information collected will be used to find out whether mutation, or changes in the virus, is causing a decline in the vaccine’s efficacy.
City doctors have said that more patients with measles were coming to their clinics. The disease is more common in warm weather. Dr Rohit Agarwal, co-chairperson of immunisation committee, International Paediatric Association, said, “There is definitely an epidemiological shift as we are seeing older children contracting measles.”
Public health experts blamed the surge in cases on the low coverage of the measles immunisation programme. “The national coverage for measles vaccination is just 70% and in Maharashtra it is around 60%,” said Dr Agarwal.
Kasturba Hospital in Chinchpokli currently has 10 measles patients suffering from secondary complications of the disease such as pneumonia and bronchitis. “We are seeing cases across the country where older children and patients who have been vaccinated have contracted the disease,” said a senior doctor from Kasturba Hospital.
Infectious disease specialist Dr Om Shrivastav, said, “There is a slight increase in the incidence of measles. It is globally recognised now that the measles vaccine, which should provide coverage for five years, is effective now only for two years.