the number of cases increasing, an epidemic during the Olympics?

the number of cases increasing, an epidemic during the Olympics?

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Covid had put an end to the latest measles outbreak, in 2020. But now the potentially fatal disease experienced “a resurgence” in France last year, Public Health France warned this Wednesday. In 2023, 117 cases of measles were declared, compared to respectively 15 in 2022 and 16 in 2021, two years when the virus circulated very little.

But “if the number of cases has increased eightfold compared to 2022, it still remains very limited compared to the pre-Covid period,” points out the health agency. Indeed, 240 cases were recorded in 2020, and above all… 2,636 in 2019.

The largest outbreak in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

In total, 16 departments declared at least one case of measles in 2023. And seven outbreaks were detected: they affected schools, family circles, and hospital services.

The largest episode of clustered cases was noted in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, with 64 cases recorded between August and November. It mainly concerned middle school students attending an establishment in Ardèche. Note that no cases have been declared overseas.

Especially teenagers

The majority of cases reported in 2023 are adolescents aged 10 to 14 (58% of cases), and the median age (12 years) is higher than usual. This is precisely explained by the occurrence of the outbreak in a college in Ardèche, which brought together 64 cases alone, including 50 adolescents aged 10 to 14 years old.

The number of cases (five) in infants under one year of age, subjects particularly at risk, is stable compared to 2022 and 2021.

No deaths reported

Of the 117 cases of measles recorded in 2023, 27 required hospitalization (i.e. 23%), including two in the intensive care unit. Hospitalizations mainly concerned children under five years old and adults over 30 years old.

No deaths have been reported. Only one hospitalization was reported among correctly vaccinated subjects.

Imported cases on the rise

Public Health France notes a notable increase in imported cases of measles in 2023: 31 cases compared to five in 2022, more than half of whom are unvaccinated, which has led to “chains of transmission in the territory”.

These cases returned from a stay in 15 different countries: Poland (one case), Romania (four cases), Switzerland (one), Turkey (three), Saudi Arabia (one), Russia (six), India (three), Indonesia (two), Malaysia (one), Algeria (two), South Africa (one), Congo (two), Egypt (one) Gabon (one) and Morocco (two).

Fear for the Olympics

And for 2024? The situation shouldn’t really get any better. Two outbreaks have already been detected in the Rhône and Drôme. Furthermore, while France will welcome “millions of foreign visitors on the occasion of the Olympic and Paralympic Games » Paris 2024 (July 26-August 11 then August 28-September 8) and that “measles epidemics are rampant in Russia and Eastern Europe, particularly in Romania, the risk of importation is increasing”, alert Public Health France.

The agency recalls that in the absence of treatment, vaccination is the only effective protection against measles. And that high vaccination coverage helps protect people at risk of serious forms, such as infants under one year old, pregnant women and immunocompromised people.

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