Joint UN appeal for mumps vaccines as epidemic strikes Moldova

Joint UN appeal for mumps vaccines as epidemic strikes Moldova

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched an appeal for $1.9 million to buy mumps vaccines for hundreds of thousands of Moldovans as an epidemic of the viral disease sweeps the small Eastern European country.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched an appeal for $1.9 million to buy mumps vaccines for hundreds of thousands of Moldovans as an epidemic of the viral disease sweeps the small Eastern European country.

As many as 400,000 children and young people born between 1989 and 1994 are deemed to be at risk as they did not complete their full course of mumps vaccines at the time.

Already 4,500 Moldovans are infected, with 80 per cent of new cases among people aged between 15 and 24. The epidemic is worst in the capital, Chisinau, and is now spreading to other districts.

“We must take action now when the epidemic can still be contained,” said Svetlana Stefanet, a UNICEF official in Moldova. “Each week the number of infections almost doubles.”

Mumps is notorious for its complications, the most severe of which is male sterility. Males currently comprise two-thirds of the infected cases. Symptoms can also include painful swellings of the glands and a rash.

The only way to stop the epidemic is to re-vaccinate the population at risk, according to experts from WHO. Moldovan health authorities estimate they need about 600,000 doses of vaccine, syringes and safety boxes.