In Progress: Europe’s More Than a Year Old Measles Outbreak is Getting Worse, WHO is Suggesting a Massive Immunization Drive to Contain It

 

The resurgence of measles has brought a lot of concern not only in the U.S. The highly infectious virus has been creating havoc in Europe. The measles outbreak started early last year and there’s no end in sight yet.

There are as of the moment 22,000 cases of the very contagious disease since the beginning of 2014.  The World Health Organization in Europe made its call on Wednesday for a massive measles vaccination campaign all over Europe

Zsuzsanna Jakab, the U.N. health agency’s European director, said she is surprised by the high number of people infected numbering to 22,149 which includes 7 countries. Europe sat a goal of eradicating measles by the end of 2015 but at the moment the target is in danger of not being met.

Measles cases may have dropped by 50 percent from 2013 to 2014, massive outbreaks continue to haunt both eastern and western Europe, according to WHO.

Italy had 1,674 measles cases since at the start  of 2014, while Germany has had 583, Kyrgyzstan 7,477 and Russia over 3,240.

“We must collectively respond, without further delay, to close immunization gaps,” Jakab said in a statement. “It is unacceptable that, after the last 50 years’ efforts to make safe and effective vaccines available, measles continues to cost lives, money and time.”

The measles virus is highly contagious and can be lethal in some instances. It can spread quickly among children who are unvaccinated.

Most of those afflicted by it may ultimately recover although there is no particular treatment applicable to it. However in poor economic areas where nutrition is not particularly well, malnourished people and children are highly susceptible to it and the accompanying complications that go with it. Their immune system is not strong enough to protect them. Some of the side effects include blindness, diarrhea, encephalitis, ear infection, and the pneumonia. The last one causes death in many cases.

The United States has been plagued with measles since 2014 which started in Disneyland late in December. It has now spread to several states infecting over 150 people. Although measles was supposed to have been eradicated in 200, it continue to come back every year albeit with only few cases. The year 2014 saw a massive return of measles infecting 644 people, the highest since 2000.

The large number of infected people is largely blamed on unvaccinated people. Many of them believed that the MMR vaccine causes autism in children which is not true of course.

A WHO Europe’s infectious diseases expert Nedret Emiroglu said “Beating the disease meant controlling any epidemics as quickly as possible and pushing vaccination rates to the highest possible levels in every country.”

“All countries, with no exception, need to keep a very high coverage of regular measles vaccination so that similar outbreaks won’t happen again… and measles can be eliminated once and for all,” she said.

 

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