Measles cases surge 400% across Europe due to 'vaccine supply issues'

Unvaccinated young children are at highest risk of contracting measles. COURTESY

The UK recently achieved World Health Organization measles elimination status, meaning that for the past few years the number of cases has been low enough to stop the disease circulating around the country. Vaccination rates in Romania, for example, declined almost 20 percent in the last 10 years.

Most of the American measles cases can be linked, in one way or another, with people traveling abroad-which is part of the reason the CDC has recommended being vaccinated against measles before going to Europe.

To prevent an outbreak, 95 per cent of the population should be immunised.

Lower rates of vaccination may have been behind the spike, the organization stated. Anyone can develop measles, but it's more likely to affect young children, especially those who are poorly nourished.

In response to the burgeoning outbreak in Italy a year ago, the country made vaccines mandatory for measles and a number of other diseases for schoolchildren. His controversial views have since been widely discredited.

Ukraine, with 4,767 measles cases, was among the three countries most affected by the outbreak, along with Romania and Italy, WHO said. Italy also experienced a severe outbreak with 5,006 cases in 2017 compared to 843 the year before.

As of the end of 2016, 42 of the 53 countries in the WHO Europe Region had successfully halted endemic measles transmission. However, outbreaks will continue to occur until every susceptible child and adult is protected.

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There has also been a surge in outbreaks across the region - with Greece and Germany reporting more than 900 cases each.

'This serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children when offered at one year of age and as a pre-school booster at three years, four months of age'.

Today (20 February), ministers of 11 countries will convene to discuss ways they can work together in order to achieve the goals set out in the European Vaccine Action Plan (EVAP) by 2020, including measles and rubella elimination.

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia and brain encephalitis.

Parents who refuse to give the jab to their children have been blamed for the deaths.

"Unfortunately, it has been hard to get the message across to parents that MMR (measles, mumps and rubella vaccine) is safe".

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