Measles Cases Reach Record High In Europe

Ebony Scott
August 22, 2018

"Following the decade's lowest number of cases in 2016, we are seeing a dramatic increase in infections and extended outbreaks", WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab said.

The WHO said the total number of cases far exceeds the annual totals reported for every other year this decade.

Holidaymakers have been given fresh warnings to ensure they are vaccinated against measles after it emerged European cases have reached an eight-year high.

Still, the World Health Organization cited Greece as one of seven countries - along with France, Georgia, Italy, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine - that reported more than 1,000 cases in the first half of 2018.

World Health Organization has called for mass immunization campaigns, raising public awareness and also better surveillance to prevent spread of the infection. In the United Kingdom, health officials advised people to ensure they were vaccinated after 807 cases were reported through August 6. The infection is highly contagious and often spreads rapidly within the unvaccinated via droplets released on coughing and sneezing. Romania was hit by an outbreak of measles in 2017, but this year the number of new cases declined to around 100 per month, according to WHO.

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Some 58% of confirmed cases have been among children aged 15 and younger who did not have the MMR vaccine when they were younger.

"Anyone who missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past or are unsure if they had two doses should contact their GP practice to catch-up".

"The great majority of parents get their children vaccinated according to their country's national immunization schedule to protect them from serious vaccine-preventable diseases but there is a minority that is still not vaccinating their children", he said. The first-half total was more than seven times the cases seen in all of 2016.

This year, at least 37 people have died from measles, a disease that can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis, which can cause blindness, brain damage or death, particularly in children.

Health officials prevent measles with the combined MMR vaccine that also counters mumps and rubella. The NHS recommends that all children should receive the MMR vaccine around their first birthday and then again before they started school. Health chiefs say to prevent outbreaks there needs to immunisation coverage in 95% of Europe, with two vaccinations every year in every community, but now the coverage varies between 70 and 95% across the continent.

Other reports by GizPress

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