Measles deaths in EU on course to treble

Measles deaths in EU on course to treble
By Chris Harris
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Deaths and infections from measles have nearly trebled since last year, latest data reveals.


Measles deaths and infections are on course to treble in the European Union, latest figures have revealed.

Cases have jumped from 3,805 last year to more than 10,000 in the first nine months of 2017, driven by spikes in Romania and Italy, data from the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown.

There were 30 deaths from January to September, against 12 last year, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Romania, which has suffered more than two-thirds of the EU’s measles deaths this year, has a lower-than-average immunisation rate.

The percentage of one-year-olds who have had the measles vaccine stood at 86 percent last year, compared with 85 percent in Italy.

WHO says countries should have immunisation rates of 95 percent to protect the wider population.

It warns immunisation rates in Europe have fallen from 95 percent to 93 percent over the last five years.

Romania and Italy have both moved to make immunisations mandatory this year.

‘Pseudoscience’ and media gossip in Romania have worked to induce high levels of scepticism towards vaccines, according to

Dr Valeria Herdea, president of a professional medical organisation in Romania, told the website: “We still have in the media, gossip shows with different celebrities of dubious taste, who provide all kind of ‘magic methods’ for child immunity, without vaccination, but who capture public attention much more than scientific information.

“This is increasing the percentage of those who became suddenly anti-vaccination or at least hesitant.”

The latest figures come as health chiefs in England warned unvaccinated people planning on traveling to Italy and Romania.

Last year a director of an immunisation programme in South America, which has been declared free of measles, told Euronews he was concerned immigration from Europe would threaten the continent’s achievement.

Europe is a world leader when it comes to scepticism over vaccines, according to a survey by the Vaccine Confidence Project.

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