Measles on the rise again in Europe

Fears were raised by a disgraced former doctor that the measles mumps and rubella vaccine caused autism

Fears were raised by a disgraced former doctor that the measles mumps and rubella vaccine caused autismSEAN GALLUP GETTY IMAGES

A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that those opposed to vaccinations might be responsible for outbreaks of measles across Europe.

The disease affected 21 315 people and caused 35 deaths in 2017, following a record low of 5273 cases in 2016.

Referring to the number of outbreaks, which is a case in which more than 100 cases are reported in a year, a health officials said many factors arround vaccination were affecting figures. "Over 20,000 cases of measles, and 35 lives lost in 2017 alone, are a tragedy we simply can not accept", commented Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe.

Romania ranked first with 5,562 reported cases, followed by Italy with 5,006 and Ukraine with 4,767. The global health watchdog also said vaccine supplies and "underperforming disease surveillance systems" in several European countries have contributed significantly to the rash of recent measles cases.

Cases increased four-fold, with more than 20,000 people affected and 35 deaths.

Ministers of health of 11 countries will meet on 20 February 2018 to discuss working together to achieve the goals set out in the European Vaccine Action Plan (EVAP) by 2020, including measles and rubella elimination.

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Health officials encourage parents to have their children vaccinated, especially those between six months and eight years of age. The vaccine offers the best protection from the flu and reduces severe outcomes should an individual become ill with the flu.

If people are unsure of their vaccination status they are advised to get an MMR vaccine, as even if they do have 2 doses of MMR a third dose is not harmful. Romania has one of Europe's lowest measles vaccination rates.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be deadly.

"This short-term setback can not deter us from our commitment to be the generation that frees our children from these diseases once and for all".

There has been some controversy about whether the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jab - included as part of the NHS childhood immunisation programme - might cause autism. (These figures are for people who have received two doses of the vaccine.) Parents have been refusing the vaccine-which hasn't been reliably available anyway, Reuters reported in July.

You or your child can be vaccinated at any point if you haven't been fully vaccinated before. However, outbreaks will continue to occur until every susceptible child and adult is protected. Other symptoms of measles can include a high fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes.

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