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Affected countries are likely to have a measles outbreak, US researchers warn

US researchers predict that there could be 16,000 extra deaths, more than have died from Ebola.

United States researchers have warned that Ebola-hit countries in West Africa could very likely have a measles outbreak that could infect hundreds of thousands of people, this is according to the BBC.

A study in the journal Science suggests that due to the Ebola outbreak which kept many people away from health centres,  there could be even more deaths from other diseases because of the devastating impact on the countries' vaccination programmes.

There have been 24,350 cases of Ebola in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone while more than 10,000 people have died from the virus.

Many health care facilities closed at the outset of Ebola and the fear of the deadly virus meant people did not show up at those that remained, which has had a knock-on effect on immunisation campaigns for measles, polio, TB and other diseases.

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Based on an estimation by an international team of scientists who tried to determine the impact this disruption could have on measles protection, it was gathered that 20,000 more people were becoming susceptible to measles every month.

At the start of the outbreak they said there were 778,000 unvaccinated children and the total would increase to 1,129,000 after 18 months of the Ebola outbreak meaning that there would be an additional 100,000 measles cases, on top of the 127,000 that would be anticipated in a pre-Ebola measles outbreak.

This could lead to 16,000 extra deaths, more than have died from Ebola, the team suggested.

Buttressing this point, Dr Justin Lessler, of Johns Hopkins University, US said:

"Measles in particular is known to show up during or after humanitarian crises because it is so infectious. The addition of so many unvaccinated children to the already considerable at-risk population significantly increases the likelihood of a major measles outbreak."

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