GENEVA – More than 41,000 children and adults in Europe were infected with measles alone in the first six months of 2018. The data were presented by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday and warned of the fact that the new rate records in the current century already exceeds all cases that have been registered annually in the past decade.
According to the organization, 37 people died this year on the European continent, of which 14 in Serbia. In 2017 the number of cases of measles was 23,000 and in 2016 only 5,200 people were infected.
Now the WHO warns about the spread of the disease. Seven countries, including Italy, France and Greece, have registered more than 1,000 cases. But the jump in the number of infected people mainly took place on behalf of Ukraine. In the first six months of the year, the disease reached 23,000 people across the country. Still living in an armed conflict in the east of the country and in a crisis, Ukraine recorded a decline in its vaccination campaigns.
"After a decade of declining numbers of cases, we see a dramatic increase in infections and the extent of outbreaks," said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. "We call on all countries to take immediate measures to stop the spread of the disease," he said.
The data show that in 2017, 43 of the 53 countries in Europe had succeeded in halting the endemic proliferation of measles; 42 of them managed to stop the rubella.
Nevertheless, the WHO is concerned about the lack of monitoring and the low vaccination coverage in some countries. In places that have succeeded in ending the outbreak in recent years, the prevalence of the disease and its transmission for more than 12 months has again determined measles as "endemic".
"It shows that every person who has not been immunized remains vulnerable, wherever they live, and every country must insist on high vaccination coverage," said Nedret Emiroglu, WHO Director of Emergencies in Europe.
The contagious measles are considered in the WHO as one of the priorities for the next decade. "In order to prevent outbreaks, immunization coverage must reach 95% of people with two doses per year," estimates the health agency.
According to WHO, the problem is that certain regions in Europe have coverage of less than 70%. "We can stop this disease, but we will not be able to do it before everyone makes a contribution," said Jakab.
Brazil is faced with outbreaks of measles
After measles in Brazil have been considered exterminated in 2016, the country faces two outbreaks of the disease today, according to a bulletin released last week by the Ministry of Health: in Amazonas (910 confirmed cases with two deaths) and in Roraima ( 296 cases and four deaths). There are isolated cases in São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Rio, Rondônia, Pará and Pernambuco.
Brazil came to D-Day from the polio vaccination campaign and the measles, last weekend, with about 9 million children still being immunized. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, only 16% of the target population received a dose of the vaccines.