Anti-vaxxers partly responsible for Europe's highest measles cases in a decade

Leslie Hanson
February 8, 2019

Meanwhile, Ukraine had the highest rate of measles cases in Europe, at 1,209 per one million population - 10 times the country's rate in 2017.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause hearing loss and brain disorders in children and, in severe cases, can kill.

Vaccination rates for measles, mumps and rubella in Ukraine fell sharply over a number of years during its conflict with Russian Federation, reaching 31% in 2016 - among the lowest in the world.

The virus can linger in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves the area, and causes fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a rash. Among the confirmed cases, 43 were not immunized against the highly contagious disease.

Two doses are 97 percent effective, and public health officials in Washington recommend that everyone who is unvaccinated or only received one get both shots to avoid contracting measles. That is almost a 500 percent jump in orders from January past year, when the total was just 530.

A person can carry measles for up to two weeks before symptoms show. In Madagascar, officials say more than 50,000 people have been infected with measles in recent months and more than 300 people, mostly children, have died as a result.


Last year, 372 measles cases were confirmed nationwide, the most since an outbreak in 2014 sickened 667 people.

Washington and OR are among 17 states that allow nonmedical exemptions from vaccination requirements for school entry, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

While families in Madagascar have difficulty accessing the measles vaccine, outbreaks in Europe and the USA are often linked to vaccine hesitancy - the reluctance of parents to vaccinate their children because of unfounded fears about the treatment.

Health clinics are scrambling to keep up with sudden demand, mostly among parents of children in Southwest Washington who had not been inoculated. Orders of measles vaccines in the county reached 3,150 in January.

In 34 of the countries, estimated coverage with a second dose of measles vaccine was below 95 per cent. Julie Graham, a public information officer with the Health Department, said those reports are inaccurate.

Multnomah County officials have reported a steep uptick in vaccinations over this time past year.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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