The International Expert Committee of WHO has declared the North and South America Continents measles free.
The declaration was made by the International Expert Committee for Documenting and Verifying Measles, Rubella, and Congenital Rubella Syndrome Elimination in the Americas.
Measles is a viral disease that can cause severe health problems, including pneumonia, blindness, brain swelling and even death. It is one of the most contagious diseases and affects primarily children.
It is transmitted by airborne droplets or via direct contact with secretions from the nose, mouth, and throat of infected individuals.
Measles is the fifth vaccine-preventable disease to be eliminated from the Americas, after the regional eradication of smallpox in 1971, poliomyelitis in 1994, and rubella and congenital rubella syndrome in 2015.
Before mass vaccination was initiated in 1980, around 1,01,800 deaths were attributable to measles between 1971 and 1979 in the Americas.
The International Expert Committee reviewed evidence on measles elimination presented by all the countries of the Region between 2015 and August 2016 and decided that it met the established criteria for elimination.