Source: The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Just in the period of a month, a whopping 1,500 cases of measles were reported in 30 European countries. Reported by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), this figure from March 2019 is significantly higher than the figures reported the months before. More worryingly, March brings with it highest number of monthly cases reported in nearly one year.
Measles is a contagious viral disease that causes symptoms such as a high fever, blotchy rash and sore and red eyes. The symptoms of the disease are generally unpleasant and in some people, measles can lead to life threatening complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis.
It is notable, however, that the disease is preventable with the use of vaccines. Two doses of the measles vaccine, or MMR as it is better known as, are over 99% effective in preventing measles. This is largely the reason why measles is now not a common disease reported in the UK.
Incidences of measles in Europe are not uncommon, but outbreaks – that is, a higher than usual number of cases reported in a certain time period – are closely monitored by the ECDC.
Below, Clari Health highlights some significant takeaways from the figures reported by the ECDC.
Who is at risk for measles?
According to ECDC, young children who have not been vaccinated against measles have the highest risk of contracting the disease. Moreover, these young children are also more susceptible to the complications brought on by the measles infection.
Although measles affects all age groups, almost half of all the measles cases reported in Europe in March were individuals in their twenties. Contracting measles as an adult can be very serious and symptoms may cause extreme discomfort.
The breakdown of these statistics provide a compelling case for the vaccination of both children and adults.
The UK’s current Childhood Immunisation Schedule stipulates that children be given the MMR vaccine at one year and at three years and four months.
However, adults who are unsure of their immunity or have not yet been vaccinated should still book an appointment with us to get their shots, especially if they’re travelling to a region which has a high risk of transmission of measles. Adults born after the year of 1957 are also recommended to get two doses of the MMR vaccine.
Which countries are affected by measles?
Of the European nations that reported cases of measles in March, Italy, France and Romania had the highest number – 2107, 2028 and 1390 respectively. Cases reported by these 3 countries make up almost half of the total number of cases reported. The disease caused 21 deaths in these counties over a one year period as well.
The UK, in comparison, reported 860 measles cases in March.
Measles continues to be a threat in Europe because vaccination coverage in many of its countries is not optimal. The ECDC suggests that vaccination coverage rates must reach at least 95% in all European countries in order for outbreaks such as the ones in March to be prevented.
How can you protect yourself from measles?
If you’re going to be travelling to any European countries in the next few months, keep in mind that you’ll be putting yourself and your children at risk of contracting the disease if any of you have not yet been vaccinated.
It’s vital that you consult your health professional to get the MMR vaccine a month before you’re due to travel. This is because the two doses of the vaccine need to be given at least 28 days apart.
Since two doses of the vaccine are nearly a 100% effective in protecting you against measles, you can enjoy your holiday without worrying about your or your loved ones’ health.
Book an appointment with us now to get your MMR shot and advice on how to protect yourself from other travel health risks during your trip.