In the first half of 2019, there was a significant increase in measles cases in Europe. According to preliminary figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), about 90,000 cases were registered in the first six months. Accordingly, the number of diseases had doubled compared to the same period in 2018. In addition, the countries of Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and the United Kingdom have lost their status as free of measles.
In total, 53 countries are included in the area studied by WHO for the spread of measles and rubella. Measles cases were registered in 48 states. Measles diseases in the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Russia have been particularly strong. There, 78 percent of all measles cases in the first half of the year had occurred. In Germany, measles would be regionally limited.
Such a development did not exist since the beginning of the detailed monitoring in 2012. "The return of measles is worrying," said WHO expert Günter Pfaff. Without a widespread vaccination coverage, both children and adults would suffer unnecessarily and could die as well. According to the WHO, since January 2018 about 100 people in Europe have died from the highly contagious infectious disease. The development shows the need for a vaccination rate of 95 percent in the population, it said. For rubella, the situation was better. According to the WHO, 39 countries are considered to be free of the infectious disease, two more than in 2017.
The years of effort have almost eradicated the measles. "But the outbreaks show that more effort is needed," said WHO Regional Director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab. Now is the time to address everything, which has led to the sometimes lethal virus persisting. Every opportunity should be seized to give children the routine vaccination, to inform adults about their vaccination status and to vaccinate them if necessary.
Measles cases are also increasing worldwide
The measles are one of the most contagious diseases in the world. Most affected are children. Even if not fatal, it can lead to serious consequences: sufferers can carry off brain damage or become blind and deaf.
The WHO therefore demands greater efforts for more vaccinations against the disease. "Millions of people are in danger worldwide," she warns, also urging travelers to check their vaccination status. From the age of six months, everyone should be vaccinated at least 15 days before traveling to affected areas.
Worldwide, the number of measles diseases has increased significantly this year, the WHO said. In the first six months of the year, the highest number of reported measles cases since 2006 occurred during the same period. By the end of July, nearly 365,000 cases of measles had been registered in 182 countries - almost three times as many as in the same period last year and more than in 2018 as a whole.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, there were more than 450 measles cases in Germany by the end of July this year. In 2018, there were about 540 cases, in 2017 just under 930. In measles outbreaks there are annual and regional partly large fluctuations in the number of cases.
In July, the grand coalition launched a law on measles vaccination in Germany. As of March 2020, parents need to prove that they have been vaccinated before taking their children to a day care center or school. The Bundestag must agree to the law however still.