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

08 February, 2019, 09:24 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • A child receives a vaccine in a hospital in Belgrade Serbia

Measles cases in the Philippine capital region also surged 10 times at the start of the year, as the government failed to hit its immunization target in 2018.

Experts can't say for sure where the next outbreak might be.

The most serious complications from severe measles include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), diarrhoea and dehydration, and severe respiratory infections, according to WHO. Lower vaccination rates can lead to higher death rates.

In Clark County, Washington - where about 50 people have been infected since the outbreak started - more than 6 times as many people were vaccinated for measles from January 13 to February 2 compared to the same period previous year, according to a spokesperson for Washington State Department of Health.

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A report published by the European Commission past year and compiled by a team led by Ms Larson found measles immunisation coverage had fallen in 12 EU countries since 2010, and seven out of the 10 countries with the lowest vaccine confidence in the world were in Europe.

But while the disease had virtually disappeared in much of the developed world, it has recently returned with a vengeance - in part thanks to rising vaccine hesitancy.

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Adult vaccination numbers in the county also rose. Health investigators in the city have determined that the first case was identified in an unvaccinated child who was exposed to measles during travel to Israel.

At the same time, the World Health Organization said, record numbers of children are getting the vaccine - offering hope that the rise in infections may not last.

Heidi Larson, a specialist in vaccines and public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the increase in cases was a "wake-up call on the importance of building confidence in vaccination".

Europe is not the only country impacted by a spike in measles cases. The current measles outbreak in Clark County and one diagnosed case in King County are examples of why the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine is a crucial requirement. "We're hopeful and any time we see that there are no new exposure locations that's helpful", said Marissa Armstrong, spokeswoman for the Clark County Public Health.

"We are feeling this in every country even if at a national level we have good health policies in place".

The only reason - let us stress, the only reason - why our kids are at risk for measles today is that a segment of the population is choosing not to vaccinate their kids. The Philippines is also battling a major outbreak, with more than 1,800 cases and 26 deaths.

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