Health. Europe recorded 30 times more measles cases in 2023 than in 2022

Health.  Europe recorded 30 times more measles cases in 2023 than in 2022

There were 30 times more cases of measles recorded in Europe between January and October 2023 than in 2022, the European branch of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday, which calls for the intensification of the immunization campaign.

941 cases in 2022

“Between January and October 2023, more than 30,000 cases of measles were reported by 40 of the 53 member states in the region”, which extends to Central Asia, the UN body said in a press release. In 2022, 941 cases had been reported.

Kazakhstan and Russia are the most affected countries with more than 10,000 cases each. With 183 cases, the United Kingdom is the country in Western Europe where the resurgence of the disease, considered to be eliminated in 2021, is the most obvious.

“We have seen in the region not only a 30-fold increase in measles cases, but also almost 21,000 hospitalizations and five deaths linked to measles. This is worrying,” said WHO regional director Hans Kluge, quoted in the press release. “Urgent vaccination efforts are needed to stop transmission and prevent spread.”

“Decrease in vaccination coverage”

The resurgence of this highly contagious viral disease, which can cause fatal complications and is spread through the air, is attributed to a drop in vaccination coverage during the Covid years.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the performance of the vaccination system during this period, leading to an accumulation of unvaccinated or insufficiently vaccinated children,” it is written.

According to the WHO, which is calling for intensified campaigns to raise awareness among unvaccinated communities, more than 1.8 million infants in the region have not been vaccinated against measles between 2020 and 2022.

At the local level, it is important that at least 95% of children are vaccinated to avoid possible outbreaks when the virus is imported. In 2022, only 92% of European children had received a second dose of vaccine.

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