'Measles in Europe up 400% in 2017'


The best way to protect yourself from measles is to get the MMR vaccine.

But past year cases across Europe spiked 400 per cent with 21,315 people affected and 35 people killed following a record low of 5,273 cases in 2016.

The figures indicate that a lower rate of vaccination could be behind the increase.

Large outbreaks of measles were reported in 15 countries housed within the WHO European Region (which includes 53 countries), with the highest number of cases in Romania (5562), Italy (5006) and Ukraine (4767). The cases and deaths "are a tragedy we simply can not accept", she adds.

Today (20 February), ministers of 11 countries will convene to discuss ways they can work together in order to achieve the goals set out in the European Vaccine Action Plan (EVAP) by 2020, including measles and rubella elimination.

"This short-term setback can not deter us from our commitment to be the generation that frees our children from these diseases once and for all".

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a viral infection.

In Ireland, the latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show that in the first six weeks of this year, there have been 28 reported cases of measles.

Measles is a leading cause of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.

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The measles rash is made up of red or brown blotches.

FOR the majority of people in the United Kingdom, measles does not pose a risk. If your child missed their MMR vaccine you should contact your GP.

But, there remain some people who are not protected.

The controversy led to some parents refusing to have their babies vaccinated.

In his paper, published in The Lancet journal, he warned of a link between the combined jab and autism or bowel disease.

"However, Andrew Wakefield's work has since been completely discredited and he has been struck off as a doctor in the UK".

Severe complications can occur, including miscarriage in pregnant women, brain swelling and the risk of death from pneumonia.

Romania recorded 5,562 cases and Italy had some 5,006 cases. The WHO says countries that are experiencing conflict are at an increased risk of measles due to damaged health services and infrastructure. This is given twice - at 12 months of age and again at four-to-five years - as part of the routine immunisation programme.

At this point the only way to prevent the spread of this illness is to ensure vaccination of all those who can be vaccinated.