Published: Wed, August 22, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Measles cases hit record high in the European Region

Measles cases hit record high in the European Region

Europe reportedly has had 41,000 cases of measles - which is almost twice last year's annual total.

Figures show there were 95 cases of measles in Ireland between July 2017 and June 2018 - while the HSE this month reported an outbreak in Dublin with at least 11 confirmed cases.

Six other European countries have seen more than 1,000 infections in children and adults this year - Georgia, Greece, Italy, Russian Federation, Serbia and Ukraine.

The agency said half of this year's total - some 23,000 cases - occurred in Ukraine.

Measles is one of the most contagious viruses known.

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"With a vaccine preventable disease, one case is one too many, and the numbers of measles cases so far this year is astounding", she added. In the United Kingdom, health officials advised people to ensure they were vaccinated after 807 cases were reported through August 6.

Past year there were 23,927 cases and in 2016 some 5,273 people were infected.

Measles epidemics are also causing trouble in Brazil, where the Brazil Health Ministry reports 1,053 measles cases and five deaths this year.

Despite the record number of cases in Europe, WHO says vaccination against measles is a success story.

"Measles is a highly infectious disease that can spread rapidly and lead to serious complications - a very high vaccination coverage of 95% is needed for community protection". Those affected can suffer from high fever, coughing, a runny nose, sore red eyes and a blotchy red rash, with infections usually lasting between 7-10 days.

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"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".

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: "We have seen a number of measles outbreaks in England which are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe". This discredited the vaccine and many parents stopped immunizing their children.

"Most of the benefits have been via the triple measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine that is proven to be safe and effective in innumerable studies".

"The number of cases in the United Kingdom dropped from nearly half a million per year before the vaccine was introduced to the hundreds each year now". It spreads in the air and nearly everyone who has not been vaccinated will develop an infection if they are exposed.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was greatly concerned and that it was a threat to maintaining elimination status.

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The NHS recommends all children receive the MMR around their first birthday and then just before starting school.

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