Measles cases in Europe increase by 400 percent
Health experts recently reported an increasing number of measles cases in Germany. Infectious diseases have also increased significantly in other European countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), measles cases increased by 400 percent in the European region last year.
The number of diseases has risen massively
Measles is still dismissed as a harmless childhood disease by some people, but it also affects adults. Although the infectious disease has been on the decline since the measles vaccination was introduced around 40 years ago, the measles eradication has been slowed down again and again. It is to blame that there is insufficient vaccination. The World Health Organization (WHO) is now warning of the spread of the dangerous disease in Europe. The number of diseases has risen massively.
Over 20,000 measles cases and 35 deaths
As the World Health Organization (WHO) writes in a recent communication, measles is on the rise again in the WHO European Region.
A total of 21,315 cases were reported in 2017, including 35 fatalities, after a record low of 5,273 in 2016.
"Every new measles case in Europe reminds us that unvaccinated children and adults, regardless of where they live, are still at risk of contracting the disease and spreading it to others who may not be vaccinated" , says Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
"Over 20,000 measles cases and 35 deaths in 2017 alone are a tragedy that we simply cannot accept."
"Eliminating measles and rubella is a priority that all countries in the European Region are firmly committed to and a cornerstone for achieving health-related goals for sustainable development," said Dr. Jakab.
"However, this short-term setback cannot detract from our firm determination to become the generation that will once and for all free their children from these diseases."
Every fourth country in Europe is affected by a measles wave
The surge in the number of measles cases in 2017 was reportedly due, among other things, to major outbreaks (at least 100 cases) in 15 of the 53 countries in the European Region.
The highest number of cases was reported from Romania (5,562), Italy (5,006) and Ukraine (4,767).
According to the WHO, these countries have faced a number of challenges over the past few years, including a general decline in vaccination rates for routine vaccinations, consistently low vaccination rates in some marginalized populations, interruptions in vaccine supply and deficits in disease monitoring systems.
Other major outbreaks were from Greece (967), Germany (927), Serbia (702), Tajikistan (649), France (520), the Russian Federation (408), Belgium (369), the United Kingdom (282), Bulgaria (167), Spain (152), the Czech Republic (146) and Switzerland (105), many of which, however, had already subsided again at the end of 2017.
Measles is highly contagious. The disease is transmitted via a droplet infection. It starts with flu-like symptoms such as high fever, cough and runny nose. The characteristic rash follows later.
In general, measles weakens the immune system. As a result, bronchitis, otitis media or pneumonia can occur. In rare cases, the infection can be fatal.
The disease is particularly dangerous in infants and young children.
Discussions about vaccination
In connection with the infectious disease, there is a lot of discussion about a possible measles vaccination in Germany. In Italy, such a law was introduced a few months ago.
A majority of Germans would welcome vaccination, but numerous experts are against it. They prefer education rather than vaccination.
Vaccination protection also for adults
In Germany measles vaccination is recommended for children from the eleventh month of life, for infants in a day care center from the ninth month.
Adults should also check their measles vaccination protection if necessary.
"A single vaccination against measles is generally recommended for all adults who were born after 1970 and who have not been vaccinated against measles at all or only once during childhood or whose vaccination status is unclear," wrote the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on his Website.
"People who were born before 1970 are very likely to have had measles," said the experts. (ad)