In Europe, almost twice as many people contracted measles in the first six months of 2018 than in 2017. This is the conclusion of the World Health Organization (WHO), which in the first six months of 2018 lists at least 37 people who died this disease on the continent – one more than in 2017.
As we have explained, measles have the appearance of a mild illness due to symptoms (fever, fatigue, cough). Yet she can to be in some cases, mainly because of complications (brain damage, infection of the lungs) that sometimes follow the infection. The consequences of train the death of the patient, especially in unvaccinated persons.
In 2015, the WHO launched its European Action Plan for Vaccines 2015-2020, one of the main objectives being "To eliminate measles and red dog" towards the end of the decade. In the meantime, since the start of 2018, seven European countries have each registered at least one thousand cases of measles (adults and children). The phenomenon affects both countries in the east (Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and Serbia) and the west (Greece, Italy and France). Ukraine alone accounts for more than half (23,070) of cases of measles in the first six months of the year.
More than a third of countries in the European zone have a vaccination rate of less than 95%
At European level, average measles immunization coverage increased from 88% in 2016 to 90% in 2017. However, WHO underlines the persistence of major inequalities within a single country, some regions & # 39; s report coverage of more than 95% and others less than 70% "The UN agency recommends 95% vaccination coverage (for both doses of vaccine) Guarantee immunity of a population. According to data collected by WHO, only 19 out of 53 European countries have average vaccination coverage of more than 95% in 2017.
Reduce the vulnerable population
Despite an average vaccination coverage of 91% in 2017, Serbia has been hit by a measles epidemic since the beginning of the year (71 cases per 100,000 inhabitants). In the same period, Belgium has one case of measles per 100,000 inhabitants with a lower immunization coverage rate (85%). "As soon as the virus enters a low-coverage country or community, the infection spreads like a running fire in vulnerable populations (non-vaccinated or inadequately vaccinated), Dr. Siddhartha Datta, WHO Regional Technical Manager for Europe. In a country with a coverage ratio of more than 95%, a possible epidemic will soon die out because transmission of the virus will be delayed by the limited number of vulnerable people. "
Below this threshold, "Countries are exposed to epidemics, the differences between the number of registered cases in Serbia and Belgium depend essentially on the non-vaccination or under-vaccination of children against the virus"says Datta. According to a WHO report, 14,500 or 65% of infected children in Europe, in 2017, were 23,527 cases of measles, children and adolescents aged 0 to 19, confirming the high transmissibility of the disease. viruses in the youngest non-immunized populations. "Vaccination of children, adolescents and adults who have forgotten in previous years is essential for to protect future babies of all contamination ", calls for the doctor.
These case descriptions of measles in 2018 will undoubtedly contribute to discussions in the WHO European Commission in September next year, which will bring the 53 European countries together in Rome.