NEWS UPDATE: MEASLES OUTBREAKS IN EUROPE SUMMER 2018
A substantial increase in measles cases across Europe is evident
- In the first three months of 2018, 18 329 measles cases have been reported in 36 countries of the WHO European Region, including 23 measles-related deaths in 7 countries.
- Outbreaks in 2018 have been concentrated in France, Greece, Serbia and Ukraine.
- In 2017, the WHO EURO reported a total of 22 360 measles cases and 36 related deaths.
The majority of cases were reported from 3 countries (Italy, Romania and Ukraine), most cases occurred in unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people.
WHO Risk Assessment
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It remains one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
Transmission from person-to-person is airborne, as well as by direct or indirect contact of secretions (nasal, throat) of an infected person. The virus can cause widespread outbreaks in the presence of large numbers of susceptible persons.
Given the current increased measles circulation in the European Region as a result of suboptimal vaccination coverage and population immunity gaps in some countries (including Ireland) , the risk of continued disease transmission and further potential spread to other countries remains. Measles has also been reported among health workers and nosocomial transmission has contributed to some outbreaks(including Ireland).
The impact on public health will persist until the ongoing outbreaks are controlled, coverage is high and immunity gaps in the population closed.
The regular importation of cases to countries with suboptimal coverage and persisting population immunity gaps poses a high risk to the Region and may jeopardize the tremendous efforts invested to achieve elimination.
Initial symptoms of measles, which usually appear 10-12 days after infection, include high fever, runny nose, red eyes, cough, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. A few days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards. A patient is usually infectious 4 days before the start of the rash to 4 days after the appearance of the rash.
There is no specific antiviral treatment for measles. Vaccination is the only way to prevent the disease. High vaccination coverage of at least 95% with two doses of measles vaccines in all population groups and age cohorts at national level and in all districts is crucial to elimination.
Countries need to identify susceptible individuals and population groups and consider undertaking catch-up immunization or supplementary immunization activities to close immunity gaps. Tailored strategies to reach older populations and marginalized groups may be required.
Every opportunity should be used to vaccinate susceptible children, adolescents and adults. Measles-containing vaccines should also be recommended for susceptible persons intending to travel to countries where measles is endemic and where outbreaks are ongoing.
To protect health workers, prevent nosocomial infections and limit transmission of these diseases, health workers should be vaccinated. Those with an uncertain vaccination status or unknown history of disease should have their immunity status checked and be vaccinated accordingly.
Travel Advice and Vaccines from the Student Health Department
If you are planning to travel abroad for study or leisure, you should consider booking a Travel Consultation at the Student Health Department. Ideally you should be seen at least 8 weeks in advance of your planned departure date. It is never too late to attend for travel advice however, and we can help, advise and even administer some booster vaccinations up to the day of your departure. Remember the importance of having at least 2 lifetime doses of he MMR vaccine.
Before you attend for your first travel consultation, please download and complete your Travel Consultation Record travel doc
Fees for Travel Consultation and Vaccines
The cost of a travel consultation and our travel vaccines are usually lower than those charged in other clinics and can be viewed on our Charges page