Europe Grapples With Measles

A few days after measles outbreak was reported in many regions in England, there is fear that the disease would spread across Europe where many cases were reported last year. 282 cases were recorded in the UK in 2017 and as at January 2018, 51 cases had been confirmed in the West Midlands according to the Public Health office.

The UK recently achieved WHO measles elimination status meaning that for the past few years the number of cases has been low enough to stop the disease circulating around the country.

The overall risk of measles to the UK population is low, but due to ongoing measles outbreaks in Europe, cases in unimmunised individuals and limited onward spread can occur, reports the BBC.

Europe has seen a massive surge in measles cases in 2017, which the World Health Organisation says is a tragedy after a record low of 5,273 cases in 2016.

Cases increased by 400 per cent, with more than 20,000 people affected and 35 deaths.

Fifteen European region countries, including the UK, had large outbreaks. Measles cases were highest in Romania, Italy and Ukraine.

People shunning vaccination is part of the problem, say experts. Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be deadly.

The MMR vaccine can prevent it.

The WHO, according to the BBC, says there have been declines in overall routine immunisation coverage, as well as consistently low coverage among some marginalised groups and interruptions in vaccine supply or under performing disease surveillance systems.

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, from the WHO, said: “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.

“This short-term setback cannot deter us from our commitment to be the generation that frees our children from these diseases once and for all.”


Measles cases across Europe in 2017

  • Romania – 5,562 cases
  • Italy – 5,006 cases
  • Ukraine – 4,767 cases
  • Greece – 967 cases
  • Germany – 927 cases
  • Serbia – 702 cases
  • Tajikistan – 649 cases
  • France – 520
  • Russian Federation – 408
  • Belgium – 369
  • UK – 282
  • Bulgaria – 167
  • Spain – 152
  • Czech Republic – 146
  • Switzerland – 105