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Measles outbreak in Western Europe has dire consequences

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 4th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

There has been an especially virulent outbreak of measles in Western Europe. The outbreak has hit the nation of France especially hard, with six of the nine death attributable to the disease taking place there. Of the 26,000 reported measles cases in 36 European countries from January to October 2011, 83 percent have occurred in Western Europe, which is supposed to have world-leading public health services.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The World Health Organization Europe has issued a stern warning to nations, saying that the ever-growing measles outbreaks pose a "serious public health (threat) with economic implications."

In a recent report, WHO Europe says that European nations must take effective, prompt preventive action to combat measles transmission during the approaching winter months.

Europe's high season for measles is generally from February until the end of May, with 14,000 of the reported cases occurring in France. So far, there have been 7,288 hospitalizations due to measles.

"The increase in measles in European countries reveals a serious challenge to achieving the regional measles elimination goal by 2015," Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe says. "Every country in the European Region must take the opportunity now to raise coverage amongst susceptible populations, improve surveillance and severely reduce measles virus circulation before the approaching measles high season."

"A substantial commitment is needed and should involve all stakeholders, especially health professionals who have a decisive role to play in helping parents make informative decisions regarding vaccination."

Western Europe has now become one of the three measles hotspots worldwide. The Democratic Republic of Congo, which has over 100,000 reported cases so far this year. Nigeria lists over 15,000 cases. In addition, the nation of Somalia has at least another 15,000.

Since air travel is commonplace, a regional outbreak of a very contagious disease affects other regions. The European outbreak has been the cause of reported measles cases in the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil and South-East Asia. The U.S. says that 2011 has had more reported cases than in any year since 1996.

Nine in every ten measles cases in Europe have occurred in adolescent and adult individuals who had either not been vaccinated, or their vaccination status was unknown.

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