Measles vaccination
Karnataka is the first Indian state to take an initiative to to eradicate measles by 2020.Reuters

Karnataka is going to be the first Indian state to work towards achieving WHO's goal of eliminating measles and rubella from the South Asian region by 2020. The state has made it compulsory to confirm each suspected case of measles and rubella with the help of blood tests.

Since 2006, Kerala followed by Karnataka were the only states conducting detailed investigations of measles and rubella only when there has been an outbreak affecting at least 5 or more people.

The aim of Karnataka to work towards the 'Measles Elimination Goal' led to a change in this system of investigating the ailments; the state started examining each and every individual case and became the first Indian state to do so.

"Karnataka has a very good healthcare system compared to other States," Lokesh Alahari, WHO's Sub-Regional Team Leader for Karnataka, told The Hindu.

The officials will be aided by the new method in restraining the spread of measles and rubella and prevent the epidemic from taking place, Alahari explained.

Puducherry will follow Karnataka and start conducting case-based or individual surveillance from next month onwards, officials from the WHO Country Office for India informed.

Last year, 365 cases of measles and 25 cases of rubella were reported in UP which was the highest in the country. This year 117 cases of measles and 45 rubella outbreaks have been observed in UP so far.

Bihar was the state with second highest number of measles outbreak, 171 cases were reported last year and 60 cases have been reported this year till now.

A senior official from the Karnataka Health Department's Immunisation Division stated that not just representatives from government medical colleges, but even government doctors and laboratory technicians had been trained to collect blood samples of people suspected to be infected with measles and rubella and send them for free testing at the National Institute of Virology, Bengaluru.

The official stressed that the blood test must be done if anyone belonging to any age group show symptoms like maculopapular rash along with running nose or cough or eye redness and fever.

"We will now include rubella vaccination along with measles in the immunisation programme. Also, we will soon start a mass vaccination campaign on the lines of the pulse polio immunisation in the State," the official said according to a report by The Hindu.

At least 95 per cent of children need to be vaccinated with both the doses if the transmission of measles and rubella had to be checked, he added.

In case of any measles cases, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), school teachers and nurse midwives could inform the health department, the official said.