Measles Cases Are Skyrocketing in Europe as More Parents Shun Vaccines

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In Norway, all children are offered a MMR immunization vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella.

Measles is a highly contagious disease.

However, the numbers of measles cases jumped sharply in Europe in 2017, according to new data released by the World Health Organization. In September 2017, Denmark was officially considered to have eliminated the disease.

In the a year ago, a total of 21,315 people were affected by measles, resulting in 35 deaths. "The loss of lives is a tragedy that we simply can not accept".

Some 15 European countries experienced serious outbreaks of measles a year ago, but the worst affected were Romania, with 5,562 cases, Italy with 5,006 and Ukraine with 4,767.

Romania, Italy and Ukraine reported the highest number of people affected, together accounting for over 70 percent of the entire number in Europe.

These countries have witnessed declines in overall immunisation coverage - for some marginalised groups this coverage has been consistently low - interruptions in the supply of vaccines or underperforming disease surveillance systems. The measles vaccine can protect children against the disease, and is about 97 percent effective after two doses.

Dr Valeria Herdea, president of a professional medical organisation in the country, told the website: "We still have in the media, gossip shows with different celebrities of dubious taste, who provide all kind of "magic methods" for child immunity, without vaccination, but who capture public attention much more than scientific information".

That was controversial and sparked protest.

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In 1998, the since disgraced gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield published fraudulent research in The Lancet which claimed a link between MMR and autism, causing a major fall in the uptake of the vaccine.

"Greece (967), Germany (927), Serbia (702), Tajikistan (649), France (520), the Russian Federation (408), Belgium (369), the United Kingdom (282), Bulgaria (167), Spain (152), Czechia (146) and Switzerland (105)."

Here are the total reported measles cases for Europe in 2017.

The percentage of one-year-olds who have the vaccine stood at 86% in Romania and 85% in Italy. As NPR's Jason Beaubien reports, Rohingya camps in Bangladesh have also seen recent outbreaks.

People who remain unvaccinated contribute to measles rates not only by exposing themselves but also by exposing others.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention past year warned worldwide travelers to ensure they are vaccinated against measles.

An outbreak hit Minnesota in 2017, sickening at least 79 people. But 2017 had more than doubled that number.

Patients with measles have symptoms such as fever, cough and runny nose at the onset, according to the CDC. And almost 3 days later, a flat red rash starts appearing on the body of infected person.

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