Measles on the rise again in Europe

Joy Montgomery
February 21, 2018

Measles cases more than tripled in Europe a year ago, with outbreaks and epidemics fueled by low vaccination rates, the World Health Organization says.

A year ago in Europe, however, at least 100 cases were reported in 15 of the continent's 53 countries, including 5,562 in Romania, 5,006 in Italy and 4,767 in Ukraine.

"Every new person affected by measles in Europe reminds us that unvaccinated children and adults, regardless of where they live, remain at risk of catching the disease and spreading it to others who may not be able to get vaccinated". The cases and deaths "are a tragedy we simply can not accept", she adds.

Cases were highest in Romania, Italy and Ukraine, with 15 countries, including the United Kingdom, experiencing large outbreaks.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organisation (Who) said cases of the disease in Europe increased by 400 per cent previous year.

The HSE said in most cases those who contracted measles had not taken up the vaccine - something which experts say is driving the current surge in cases. Similarly, numerous larger outbreaks in Europe in 2017 were starting to decline by the end of the year, the World Health Organization reports.

An ongoing outbreak in the Limerick area is now being investigated by the Measles Outbreak Control Team.

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However, the figures for Ireland show a reverse trend - with more cases in 2016 than in 2017.

"Most cases so far are associated with the Ballinacurra Weston and Carew Park (Southill) area of the city".

In response to this, there will be a free MMR clinic on February 21 from 12-3pm at Barrack View Primary Care Centre, Edward Street, Limerick.

Immunisation helps establish herd immunity against the infectious disease.

The measles rash is made up of red or brown blotches.

Today, health ministers from 11 countries will meet to discuss progress with the European Vaccine Action Plan, which includes the aspired elimination of measles and rubella. In Ireland, the first dose is given at 12 months by Global Positioning System and the second dose is given to Junior Infants in school by HSE vaccination teams or by Global Positioning System in Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim.

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