Measles cases surge 400% across Europe due to 'vaccine supply issues'

HSE Measles clinic for city

Measles cases jump by 400% in Europe

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

According to the HSE, as of today there have been 15 confirmed cases of measles so far this year and 35 probable cases under investigation. Similarly, numerous larger outbreaks in Europe in 2017 were starting to decline by the end of the year, the World Health Organization reports.

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

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, described it as "a tragedy we can not accept".

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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.

Romania and Italy reported the most cases with 5,562 and 5,006 cases respectively.

Other countries with large outbreaks in 2017 were Greece (967 cases), Germany (927), France (520), Belgium (369), Britain (282), Bulgaria (167), Spain (152), Czech Republic (146), and Switzerland (105).

Among the methods available for accomplishing that goal are raising public awareness, immunizing health care professionals and other adults at particular risk, addressing challenges in access, and improving supply planning and logistics.

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Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be deadly and the MMR vaccine can prevent it. However, outbreaks will continue to occur until every susceptible child and adult is protected.

Since the introduction of a process to verify the elimination of measles and rubella in 2012, the WHO European Region has witnessed progression in achieving the ultimate goal. Had MMR vaccination levels exceeded 95 per cent of the target population, measles may well have been eradicated by now.

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.

"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".

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The WHO Regional Office for Europe has released new data for 2017 ahead of a health ministerial meeting on immunisation in Montenegro on Tuesday.

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