The World Health Organization WHO talked about a tragedy last year. About 24,000 cases of measles had occurred throughout Europe – more than in any other year of this decade. But what is happening now, this record year in the shadow.
In the first six months of this year alone, 23,000 people were infected with the virus in Ukraine. Six other countries – France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Russia and Serbia – have experienced outbreaks of more than 1000 cases. In the first half of the year, more than 41,000 people were infected in the WHO European Region, including some Asian countries.
37 of them died, most in Serbia. In Switzerland there had been a death for years. In February, a young man died of the disease. Because the highly contagious disease can be much more difficult than many people think. Acute measles infections in children can cause lung and middle ear infections. Especially feared is a late complication called SSPE. The so-called subacute sclerosing panencefalitis is an inflammation of the entire brain, which usually ends in death.
"We are experiencing a dramatic increase in infections and long-term outbreaks," warns Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. She called on the Member States to increase the vaccination coverage. To prevent the measles virus from spreading, at least 95 percent of the population must be vaccinated. There is only 90 percent in Europe and some countries do not even get a 70 percent quota.
Epidemic: In 2009, more than 1,100 people were infected with the measles virus in Switzerland. Photo: Keystone
And there are other setbacks: the new government of Italy tipped the only year ago and has again introduced ten vaccinations. The measure had begun promisingly. Vaccination rates for measles, mumps and rubella increased by 4.4 percent in the first year of vaccination.
Federal government: "Everyone must be vaccinated"
In Switzerland vaccination coverage is "very high", as Daniel Koch, head of the communicable diseases department at the Federal Public Health Office (FOPH), says. "We are very close to the 95 percent target." From this value the virus can no longer spread.
"The number of cases of measles in Switzerland has remained stable at a low level in recent years and since the federal measles campaign started in 2011, it has fluctuated between about 20 and 180 cases per year. , most of which affect people who have been infected with imported cases.
Due to the high vaccine, Koch does not expect any impact from the current outbreaks of measles in Europe on Switzerland. But he warns: "There is an adult pick-up between the ages of 25 and 40." People must also check their vaccination status before they travel to neighboring Italy and France or to the holiday destination of Greece and if necessary vaccinated. "In general, we recommend the vaccine against measles to all residents of Switzerland, regardless of their travel plans."
(HVW / SZ.de)
Created: 22.08.2018, 11:34 clock