Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Look Back at Measles in Vietnam, As Viral Online As Off

In spring 2014, dozens of children sickened and died in Hanoi due to measles. Due to Vietnam's one-party system and thorough government oversight, past infectious disease outbreaks tended to be handled efficiently. But in 2014, panic and outrage ensued as the Vietnamese population looked to Facebook to gather information and share their concerns. While Facebook can be a quick way for health officials to communicate directly with a population, the hysteria around measles was worsened by the spread of misinformation and false news. The public quickly became suspicious of the health ministry's hesitance to label the situation an outbreak, and this suspicion fed off previous poor relations between the public and the health minister. Even today, many Vietnamese who witnessed the outbreak have chosen not to vaccinate their children against measles, because suspicions about the vaccine's safety have been raised and spread through Facebook.

Measles is a paramyxovirus (ssRNA) with 1 serotype. Humans are the only natural hosts. It causes acute respiratory illness, fever, maculopapular rash, and more. It has been declared eliminated from the United States, but cases and outbreaks do occur when travelers bring the disease.

by Julia Daniel


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