Published: Wed, February 21, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Measles Cases Are Skyrocketing in Europe as More Parents Shun Vaccines

Measles Cases Are Skyrocketing in Europe as More Parents Shun Vaccines

The CDC has issued travel advisories about Europe, reminding Americans to make sure they are up to date on the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

The HSE said in most cases those who contracted measles had not taken up the vaccine - something which experts say is driving the current surge in cases. According to the World Health Organization, this may be down to "declines in overall routine immunization coverage, consistently low coverage among some marginalized groups, interruptions in vaccine supply or underperforming disease surveillance systems".

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a viral infection.

Far fewer cases were reported in other European countries, including 967 in Greece, 927 in Germany, 702 in Serbia, 649 in Tajikistan, 520 in France, 408 in the Russian Federation, 369 in Belgium, 282 in the United Kingdom, 167 in Bulgaria, 152 in Spain, 146 in Czechia and 105 in Switzerland.

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Measles cases across Europe increased by 400% in 2017 with more than 20,000 people affected and 35 deaths.

You or your child can be vaccinated at any point if you haven't been fully vaccinated before. The MMR vaccine is given for free and forms part of the basic immunisation programme offered to all children born in Malta. Other symptoms of measles can include a high fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes.

It says more than 20 million people were infected with measles in 2016. They say a lack of coverage increases the risk of the virus spreading when it is brought in from overseas.

In Ireland, the latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show that in the first six weeks of this year, there have been 28 reported cases of measles. The worst affected country was Romania, with 5,562 cases. There were more than 5,500 cases a year ago, partly due to a shortage of the vaccine and poor healthcare facilities.

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In recent years, a loose group of campaigners against vaccinations, dubbed the anti-vax movement, has dissuaded Italians from opting in to immunisations by citing supposed risks.

Ukraine is also struggling with a measles outbreak, with nearly 5,000 cases recorded in 2017.

A spokesperson stated that the uptake in the MMR vaccine in Limerick has been consistently lower than below World Health Organisation recommendations, which is 95% uptake.

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