Unprecedented' 100,000 people hit by EU measles outbreak – as deadly disease spreads at terrifying rate

Unprecedented' 100,000 people hit by EU measles outbreak – as deadly disease spreads at terrifying rate

May 10, 2019

MEASLES is spreading at a terrifying rate across Europe with more than 100,000 people hit by the outbreak in the last year.

Authorities are being urged to increase their response to combat the deadly surge in the preventable disease, The World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

In February, it said that the number of people infected with measles in Europe hit a decade high.

New figures now show more than 100,000 cases of measles have been reported in 47 of the 53 European countries since January 1, 2018, including 90 deaths.

There were 913 measles in England and Wales between January and October 2018, the most recent data from Public Health England shows.

Two adults died from measles in 2017 in the UK but there were none last year.

Ukraine reported the highest number of measles cases in 2018, and more than nine in ten were in 10 countries, including France, Italy and Greece.

The surge in cases followed a year when Europe achieved the highest ever estimated coverage for measles vaccinations.

Tackling the outbreak

The WHO says it's scaling up its efforts to tackle the outbreak and is urging authorities to make sure vulnerable people are vaccinated.

They said that this is due to the growing number of children and adults affected by and dying from the disease.

Officials blame the "persistence of pockets of non-immunised or under-immunised individuals in many countries fuelling the continuing spread of measles".

Dr Dorit Nitzan, acting regional emergency director at the WHO in Europe, said: “We have observed an unprecedented upsurge in people sick with this preventable disease, and too many have lost their lives to it.

“This is unacceptable and we need to be bolder and scale up our response to the next level.

"I am proud to see that different parts and levels of WHO are intensifying their combined efforts to stop these outbreaks."

There's been an unprecedented upsurge in people sick with this preventable disease, and too many have lost their lives to it

Dr Masoud Dara, acting director of communicable diseases at the WHO, added: “WHO has been working closely with countries in the European region to enhance their capacity to protect children from measles.

"However, this alarming resurgence is a warning that the region’s immunisation coverage is not yet sufficient.

“Escalating our response will enable us to raise political awareness and will help in strengthening European health systems in the longer term to avoid future outbreaks.”

Experts have previously warned parents are being put off vaccinating their kids by so-called “antivaxers”who spread fake scare stories.

Prof Jonathan Ball, a vaccine expert from the University of Nottingham, said: “Measles is probably the most contagious virus infection of humans there is.

“To protect against outbreaks of this potentially devastating infection vaccine coverage has to exceed 95 percent of the population.

“It is lamentable that a significant minority – many of them influenced by a dangerous anti-vaccine movement – are failing to protect their children, such that outbreaks in the UK and Europe are becoming more common, yet a simple jab would stop this.”

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