Measles risk in Europe – WHO urges vaccination to prevent outbreaks

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Seven countries in the European region have reported more than 22,000 cases of measles in 2014 until now in 2015 (data as of 25/2/2015). Measles outbreaks threaten the European goal of eliminating this disease by the end of 2015.

Measles outbreaks continue to occur in Europe despite a 96% reduction in the number of measles cases over the past two decades. When outbreaks occur they spread quickly among individuals who are non-immune. Travel can increase the risk of exposure to measles virus and its spread into susceptible populations who are not vaccinated.

All children, teenagers and young adults should ensure that they are immune to measles, regardless of whether they are planning travel to a country where measles outbreaks are reported. In Ireland sporadic measles cases and outbreaks have decreased markedly as a result of MMR vaccination, however sporadic cases and small measles outbreaks have been reported in recent years among unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals. The source of infection cannot always be identified.

Key message
Two doses of MMR are recommended in order to maximise protection against measles infection. For children MMR vaccine is recommended at 12 months of age and another dose at 4-5 years of age. This vaccine is provided free of charge to all children in Ireland. Older individuals who have not been vaccinated and never had measles (those born since 1978 are most at risk) should speak with healthcare providers about getting the MMR vaccine.

For more information on the measles situation in Europe: http://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/press-releases/2015/whoeurope-calls-for-scaled-up-vaccination-against-measles

ECDC has produced a short YouTube video infographic on measles in Europe, specifically highlighting the burden in adolescents and adults: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BX2ZHdt4Gfo