Measles: beware, the epidemic is growing strongly in Ile-de-France

56 cases of measles were reported in Ile-de-France in October, 15 times more than in previous months. The regional health agency recalls the importance of vaccinating children.

In Ile-de-France, the Regional Health Agency observed 56 cases of measles during the month of October 2018, while we observed 3 to 4 per month before. A strong increase according to Aurélien Rousseau, general manager of the agency at the micro France Bleu, especially as each patient can contaminate between 15 and 20 people. The focus would essentially touch the Seine-Saint-Denis. No deaths were reported, but eleven patients were hospitalized, mainly children aged four whose vaccinations were not up to date.

Vaccination rate still too low

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 (37 have died), twice as many as of the year 2017. Notably because vaccination coverage is not optimal. There is a minimum threshold of vaccination coverage in a population for a "group protection" to work and protects those who can not be vaccinated (neonates, immunocompromised ...). This threshold depends on the contagiousness of the disease.

In France, with a vaccination coverage of nearly 97% for diphtheria, it exceeds the threshold of group immunity and it is therefore the entire national community that is protected, including in case of infection by a migrant. . Likewise, Haemophilus influenzae b, rubella or mumps infections have almost been eliminated in the country because coverage rates for their vaccines exceed the group immunity threshold for these 3 diseases.

On the other hand, the current level of immunization coverage against measles (79%) is still insufficient to allow group immunity (group immunity threshold = 95%), and epidemic outbreaks of the large-scale disease are thus occurring. : more than 23 000 cases reported in France between 2008 and 2012, more than 1500 serious pneumonia and more than 30 encephalitis with 10 deaths). It is unbearable and dangerous at a time when more than 41,000 cases of measles are observed in Europe.

MMR Vaccine (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)

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). The vaccine is extremely well tolerated and has only exceptional contraindications. It is not the same with measles.

Measles is no longer 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

Measles is still a major cause of death among children in poor health, but WHO is doing a huge 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: The Intersection of Science & Security - Panel #3 (November 2019).