Measles: record outbreak in Europe with 41,000 cases in a few months

More than 41,000 Europeans have contracted measles since January 2018, twice as many as in 2017. This resurgence of the disease reflects a clear decline in immunization coverage. Yet, contrary to popular belief, measles is not an infantile disease and can be fatal.

Sad balance. Since January 2018, Europe is facing its largest measles epidemic in 10 years: more than 41,000 children and adults have contracted the disease in recent months on the continent (37 died), twice as many as For the sake of comparison, only 5,300 cases were identified in Europe in 2016. This resurgence of the disease reflects a sharp decline in immunization coverage.

23,000 cases in Ukraine

Ukraine is the hardest hit this year with 23,000 cases in 6 months, followed by Serbia, Russia, Italy, Georgia, Greece, or France. According to Public Health France, "the number of measles cases has increased significantly (in France, Editor's note) since November 2017. This situation is the result of inadequate vaccination coverage in infants (79% with two doses of vaccine instead 95% needed), children and young adults ".

More precisely, 2741 cases have been reported in France since November 6, 2017, 22% of them have been hospitalized and three deaths have occurred since January. In short, contrary to popular belief, measles is neither an eradicated disease nor a benign infantile disease. It also affects adults, can cause serious pulmonary or neurological complications, or even be fatal.

89% of patients were poorly or not vaccinated

89% of the cases recorded in France since January occurred in persons who were not or poorly vaccinated. The latter have indeed received only one dose of vaccine, while vaccination coverage provides two. A single dose vaccination results in immunity in 90 to 95% of people, while two doses provide immunity in more than 98%.

#Rougeole in France: 89% of measles cases occurred in unvaccinated or poorly vaccinated subjects
?? Vaccination is the only way to protect yourself against measles
Update on Monitoring Data //t.co/bWrJDZ4fIH//t.co/TakxSMl26E

- SantépubliqueFrance (@santeprevention) August 22, 2018

"This partial setback shows that anyone who is not vaccinated remains vulnerable, no matter where they live, and that all countries must maintain the pressure to expand coverage and remedy the immunity gap, even after gaining status. interruption or elimination of the disease ", explains Figaro Dr. Nedret Emiroglu, Director, Division of Health Emergencies and Communicable Diseases, WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Traditionally, the vaccination schedule consists of injecting a dose of MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) at 12 months and a second injection between 16 and 18 months. For people who have never been vaccinated against measles, catch-up is possible. It consists of injecting two doses of vaccine at least one month apart. In the event of an epidemic, it is possible to receive the vaccine up to 72 hours after having been in contact with a person suffering from measles to avoid the occurrence of the disease (catch-up vaccination).

Measles is not a mild childhood disease

Measles is an infectious disease caused by a highly contagious virus that previously mainly affected young children from 5-6 months of age. This is no longer the case: one-third of the cases reported in France concern people over 15 years of age. A sick person can contaminate up to 20. Measles is 10 times more contagious than flu. It is easily transmitted from one person to another by air, during coughing, sneezing, or by contact with contaminated objects (toys, handkerchiefs ...).

Often mistakenly considered as benign, "measles is not only a disease of childhood, it also affects adolescents and young adults and can lead to serious complications (pneumonia, encephalitis ...) and sometimes hospitalization", even death, explained recently the Regional Agency of Health of Occitanie.

Measles globally

It is still a major cause of death among children in poor health, but WHO is doing a colossal job. Between 2000 and 2005, more than 300 million children aged nine months to 15 years were vaccinated or revaccinated. In 2015, nearly 77% of the world's population was vaccinated, leading to a further reduction in mortality: less than 345,000 deaths that year out of 20 million patients. In Europe, a measles elimination plan was put in place between 2005 and 2010. Elimination is when no epidemic - even a small one - occurs for a year or more. It is based on vaccination, hence the logic of the compulsory vaccination in France since January 2018.

Video: Measles cases spike in Europe (January 2020).