Four countries lost their measles-free status in Europe in 2018

Health heads warn that children will die if measles is not stopped, because four European countries, including the UK, have been revealed from their measles-free status in the past year

  • There have been more measles cases this year than in the whole of 2018
  • The UK, Albania, the Czech Republic and Greece have lost their status without measles
  • Experts in Britain said the & # 39; daunting & # 39; was to see countries decline
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Europe is slipping away from measles because four countries have lost their measles-free status, the World Health Organization has warned.

The UK lost its elimination status just 10 days ago, and Albania, Greece and the Czech Republic also all expired in the past year.

And in the region, 89,994 cases of the deadly infection were diagnosed in the first six months of this year – more than in the whole of 2018.

The WHO has warned that children will die if it is not brought under control of the continent.

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Experts say that more needs to be done to combat the disease and that it is & # 39; daunting & # 39; was to see the progress of countries deteriorate.

Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and the UK (highlighted in orange) have become the first countries to withdraw their measles-free status from the World Health Organization

Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and the UK (highlighted in orange) have become the first countries to withdraw their measles-free status from the World Health Organization

& # 39; The recovery of measles transfer is worrying & # 39 ;, said Dr. Günter Pfaff, chairman of the European measles and rubella elimination (RVC) regional verification committee.

& # 39; If high immunization coverage is not achieved and maintained in every community, both children and adults will suffer unnecessarily and some will die tragically. & # 39;

The warning was issued following the annual RVC analysis of elimination statuses of countries in the European region of the WHO, which covers part of the Middle East.

To qualify as having & # 39; eliminated & # 39; measles, a country must have had no illness for at least three years, despite a high-quality monitoring system.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK had lost its status on August 19 after 231 laboratory confirmed cases in the first quarter of this year.

Austria and Switzerland achieved elimination last year, bringing the total to 35 countries, while 12 still regularly have measles infections.

WHAT IS MEASLES?

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that spreads easily from an infected person through coughing, sneezing or even just breathing.

Symptoms develop between six and 19 days after infection and include a runny nose, cough, sore eyes, fever, and rash.

The rash appears as red and spotty spots on the hairline that travel down over several days, turn brown and eventually fade.

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Some children complain that they do not like bright light or develop white spots with red backgrounds on their tongue.

In one in 15 cases, measles can cause life-threatening complications, including pneumonia, convulsions and encephalitis.

Dr. Ava Easton, general manager of the Encephalitis Society, told MailOnline: Measles can be very serious.

& # 39; (It) can cause encephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain.

& # 39; Encephalitis can result in death or disability. & # 39;

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The treatment is aimed at staying hydrated, resting and, if necessary, taking pain killers.

Measles can be prevented by receiving two vaccinations, the first at 13 months old and the second at three years and four months to five years old.

Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital

Another two have managed to interrupt the transmission of the infection, lining them up for elimination if they can sustain it.

But viral infection cases have risen this year in the region, with more cases registered in the first six months of 2019 than the 84,462 in the whole of 2018.

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Professor Martin Marshal, vice-president of the British Royal College of GPs, said: & # 39; It is daunting to see these findings from the RVC at a time when we and other countries in Europe were moving towards the complete eradication of measles – a potentially deadly but completely preventable disease. & # 39;

Measles, which can be prevented with a vaccine, are caused by a virus that spreads quickly in the same way as a cold.

Although most people recover from the disease within a week or two, some may develop life-threatening complications such as pneumonia or brain swelling.

Professor Marshall added that it was important for people to keep separating myths about vaccinations and encourage people to have their children immunized.

He said: & # 39; It is encouraging that the WHO has increased its focus on the elimination of measles and has taken action to address the challenges that have allowed this deadly virus to persist in countries such as the UK.

& # 39; This, in addition to a commitment from our government to tackle a wave of dangerous anti-vax messages online – particularly through social media – will hopefully help a long way to get the country back on track. and regain our measles-free status.

& # 39; Everyone must play a role if we are to successfully combat anti-vaxxer propaganda, not least the technology companies that must take responsibility and address confusion about the vaccination information shared on their platform. & # 39;

The measles vaccination rate – the MMR shot – is the lowest rate since 2011, with 87.2 percent of the children receiving both doses before their fifth birthday.

WHICH COUNTRIES HAVE MANAGED THE END OF 2018 TO ELIMINATE MEASLES? (Source: World Health Organization)
country Measles status country Measles status
Albania Re-established Lithuania switched off
Andorra switched off Luxembourg switched off
Armenia switched off Malta switched off
Austria switched off Monaco switched off
Azerbaijan switched off Montenegro switched off
Belarus switched off The Netherlands switched off
Belgium 12 months interrupted Northern Macedonia switched off
Bosnia and Herzegovina Endemic Norway switched off
Bulgaria switched off Poland Endemic
Croatia switched off Portugal switched off
Cyprus switched off Moldovan republic switched off
Czech Republic Re-established Romania Endemic
Denmark switched off Russian Federation Endemic
Estonia switched off San Marino switched off
Finland switched off Serbia Endemic
France Endemic Slovakia switched off
Georgia Endemic Slovenia switched off
Germany Endemic Spain switched off
Greece Re-established Sweden switched off
Hungary switched off Switzerland switched off
Iceland switched off Tajikistan switched off
Ireland switched off Turkey Endemic
Israel switched off Turkmenistan switched off
Italy Endemic Ukraine Endemic
Kazakhstan 24 months interrupted United Kingdom Re-established
Kyrgyzstan Endemic Uzbekistan switched off
Latvia switched off Source: WHO

CLAIM VACCINES ARE NOT SECURE & # 39; IS ABSOLUTELY WRONG & # 39;

The British Chief Physician – the government's top adviser – criticized people spreading lies about unsafe vaccines last year.

Dame Sally Davies, who spoke on the 30th anniversary of the MMR jab (measles, mumps, and rubella), said people living the & # 39; myths & # 39; spreading & # 39; absolutely wrong & # 39; goods.

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She said in November: & # 39; For more than 30 years we have vaccinated millions of children. It's a safe vaccination, we know, and we've saved millions of lives around the world.

& # 39; People who spread these myths, when children die, they will not be there to pick up the pieces or blame. & # 39;

One myth is based on research done by Andrew Wakefield in the 1990s claiming that MMR led to autism, but his results later turned out to be fake and the work was found by experts in & # 39; fatally flawed & # 39 ;, & # 39; fraudulent & # 39; and & # 39; unfair & # 39; called the field.

Others claim that the vaccine does not work – but following the introduction of MMR in 1963, the number of deaths from measles fell on average from 2.6 million to around 100,000, according to the WHO.

The vaccine was introduced by the NHS in 1988, a year in which there were 86,001 cases of measles in England – within 10 years, in 1998, this had fallen to only 3,728 reported.

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The figure has fluctuated since then, presumably partly due to the Wakefield fear in the mid-90s, but in 2017 there were reports of only 1,693 measles cases in England.

(Note: figures quoted are cases reported to Public Health England and not laboratory-confirmed figures)

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