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Measles cases in the EU treble in 2017

Outbreaks still ongoing n France, UK and Sweden

The number of measles cases in the EU has trebled in just one year, according to the European Centre for Disease Control.

In 2017, 14,451 measles cases were reported, three times the number of cases reported in 2016 (4 643).

The highest number of measles cases to date in the EU since January 1, 2017 were in Romania (10,623), Italy (4,991), Greece (1,463) and Germany (926).

This increase was due to a number of outbreaks in EU countries – some of which are still taking place, such as those in France, the UK and Sweden.

Measles is a severe disease and since the beginning of 2016, 50 deaths due to the disease have been reported in the EU.

Measles affects all age groups across Europe, and according to the data for 2017 in the monthly measles and rubella monitoring report, 45% of measles cases with known age were aged 15 years or older – highlighting gaps in categories of individuals that missed out on vaccination. However, the highest incidence of cases was reported in infants below one year of age –those most at risk of severe complications and deaths – and too young to have received the first dose of the vaccine.

The continued spread of measles across Europe is due to low vaccination coverage in many EU/EEA countries: of all measles cases reported during 2017 with known vaccination status, 87% were in unvaccinated individuals.

Vaccination with at least two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine remains the most effective measure to prevent the further spread of measles. However, vaccination coverage is still too low in some EU/EEA countries to reach elimination, with the latest available figures on coverage collected by WHO (2016) showing that coverage for the second dose of measles was below the target of 95% in 20 of the 27 EU/EEA countries with data.

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