The World Health Organization (WHO) asked countries where the endemic transmission of measles has not been interrupted to take urgent measures to stop this spread.
Two-thirds of the WHO’s European region countries interrupted endemic transmission of measles but 14 countries remain endemic, according to the Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC). Some 559 measles cases were reported in the region in January 2017. Of these, 474 cases were reported in 7 of the 14 endemic countries: France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, and Ukraine.
“I urge all endemic countries to take urgent measures to stop transmission of measles within their borders, and all countries that have already achieved this to keep up their guard and sustain high immunization coverage. Together we must make sure that the hard-earned progress made towards regional elimination is not lost,” said Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
In all of the endemic countries, estimated national immunization coverage with the second dose of measles-containing vaccine is below the 95% threshold.
The largest current measles outbreaks in Europe are taking place in Romania and Italy, the WHO said.
Romania reported over 3,400 cases and 17 deaths between January 2016 and March 10, 2017. The majority of cases are concentrated in areas where immunization coverage is especially low.
“With steady progress towards elimination over the past two years, it is of particular concern that measles cases are climbing in Europe,” Dr Jakab said. “Today’s travel patterns put no person or country beyond the reach of the measles virus. Outbreaks will continue in Europe, as elsewhere, until every country reaches the level of immunization needed to fully protect their populations.”