Only 41,000 patients on the old continent have been registered for the first six months, Dr. Angel Kunchev
– Dr. Kunchev, cases of smallpox in Europe have reached record levels. The World Health Organization called on all countries to take immediate measures to control the virus. Which countries are most affected at the moment?
– In Europe, the most critical situation is Serbia, where 14 deaths occur, as is the case in Ukraine, where the infected is 28,000 for six months. High incidence rates also occur in Greece, France, Italy, Georgia and Russia. Total in Europe in the last three years there is a strong increase in infected virus. For the first six months of 2018 there are 41 000 measles in Europe, so probably between 50 and 60 thousand. By comparison, last year the business was 23,927.
Everything is due to irregular immunizations. In general, a large contingent has accumulated non-immunized, the virus is highly contagious and leads to an epidemic.
– Is there currently an "import" of measles in Bulgaria?
– There are 8 cases this year in Bulgaria, all of which are "imported". In fact, we do not have an internal distribution. Four Bulgarian citizens – 2 mothers and one child have returned from Italy infected, a London student and a man who works as a driver in Romania. We also have 4 cases of people working at sea from Ukraine and from Moldova. Either way, despite the contacts, the infected person could not pass on the virus to anyone in the country, so the situation is relatively good. But the basic idea is that the immunization calendar must be implemented. Children who are now in the affected countries are younger than 1 year, but they are not bad, it is about 10-15% of the sick. The rest has irregular immunizations.
– In our immunization calendar when is vaccination against measles planned?
– 13 months is the most important immunization and 12 years old is the re-immunization. Almost 10-14 days after immunization, the children have some protection and from the 20th they are fully protected.
Immunization was introduced as a regular post-1969. So those born from 1970 were protected before it was done. It is a relatively new vaccine.
"If a man has already made measles as a child, should he have to worry?
"He already has immunity."
– Some parents are rather skeptical about vaccines. Do they have reason?
"What is happening now is the best answer to all their fears, I know what is on the internet, what parents are against, it is very difficult to sift the real information out of nonsense 40 children in Europe in the 21st century dying from a disease for which a vaccine exists is a disgraceful fact and shows how important it is to maintain a good immunization status.
– Maybe parents are afraid of the side effects that a vaccine can cause?
– Any drug can have side effects, but with vaccines, because of the draconian control it is the safest medicine. Every year, 2.2 million immunizations and re-immunizations are carried out in Bulgaria. Against this background, we do not have more than 20 answers, all of which have been studied, with most of them virtually unrelated to the vaccine. For those who have such a possibility, there is no risk for the child.
Sometimes reactions are reported that are undesirable but to a certain extent normal. Instead of immunization there is swelling, redness, mild pain. It is due to the fact that the immune system comes into contact with the microorganism and therefore it is a form of inflammation. If that is not the case, there is no immunity.
– How is the most common infection with measles?
– The problem is that it is very easy. The measles are in the air, and even minimal contact with the patient is sufficient.
As a paradox it sounds like a sick person, who goes through Pirogov and infects three people, including a sanatorium and a person in the same room.
Measles is really the most contagious of infectious diseases and that is one of his bad things. The other is that the percentage of complications is not that big, but they are heavy.
Measles, pneumonia, encephalitis and meningitis are difficult to treat and therefore the mortality is so high.
– What are the symptoms to be careful with?
– In the first 1-2 days it is difficult to recognize because it starts as a general malaise, fever, headache, all signs of a general infection. But with rash everything becomes clearer and the diagnosis is simple. In this period it is important to limit the contacts because one or two days before the result and the injury the child is the most contagious for the others. So it must be in quarantine.
"Is there another prophylaxis except the vaccine?"
– There is nothing else. There is no cure. There is no specific preparation to attack the measles virus.
– What recommendations do you give to parents whose children have not been vaccinated when they travel to countries where the measles are infected?
"I could say immediately that there are no restrictions, but if the child is younger than 13 months and has not received a first immunization, parents must have one opinion and limit their contacts with children in the most affected countries – I mean Serbia and Ukraine, but to a certain extent also Greece and Romania.
– When should the update of the vaccination calendar be expected?
– We can expect an update next year, but the changes will take effect from 2020, so we have time to prepare the regulation and manufacturers to deliver the required quantities.
There will be a limitation of some reimmunizations – against tuberculosis at the age of 11, as well as the removal of one pneumimus immunization. In addition, we will include perinatal revitalization in the elderly, but it is not yet decided. That is European practice. Outside the calendar, something very important, we want to pay back the flu vaccine for the next season for people over 65.
– What are the possibilities for introducing the varicella vaccine?
– We discuss it very seriously. There are many serious reasons for introducing it, especially since it is already a reality in almost half of Europe. The most appropriate way, however, is to be on the schedule of immunizations that are part of the calendar, but that are optional. Regarding rotavirus or human papillomavirus.
The idea is for parents who want to have a free vaccine for their children without being obliged.