Europe has seen a big surge in measles cases in 2017 compared to the previous year, with the highest number of affected people being reported in Romania, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The disease affected 21,315 people in Europe and caused 35 deaths in 2017, following a record low of 5,273 cases in 2016, the organization said in a press release.
“Every new person affected by measles in Europe reminds us that unvaccinated children and adults, regardless of where they live, remain at risk of catching the disease and spreading it to others who may not be able to get vaccinated. Over 20,000 cases of measles, and 35 lives lost in 2017 alone, are a tragedy we simply cannot accept,” said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
Large outbreaks (100 cases or more) were reported in 15 of the 53 countries in the WHO European Region. According to data from the WHO, the highest numbers of affected people were reported in Romania (5,562), Italy (5,006) and Ukraine (4,767).
“These countries have experienced a range of challenges in recent years, such as declines in overall routine immunization coverage, consistently low coverage among some marginalized groups, interruptions in vaccine supply or underperforming disease surveillance systems,” reads the press release.
Other countries that experienced outbreaks included Greece (967 cases), Germany (927), Serbia (702), Tajikistan (649), France (520), the Russian Federation (408), Belgium (369), and the United Kingdom (282).
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus. It causes a total-body skin rash and flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, and runny nose. According to information posted on the World Health Organization’s website, the virus is highly contagious, spreading by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, and direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Unvaccinated young children pose the highest risk of measles and its complications, including death.
Irina Marica, [email protected]