The Reason Behind the Measles Cases in Europe


Measles has always been present amongst humans, but thanks to vaccinations, this disease is not omnipresent anymore, especially in the developed countries. Until recently, the numbers did not look bad, as there were only 5,000 cases of measles in 2016 in Europe. However, in the following year, various health organizations recorded nearly 24,000 infections and in the first half of this yeah the situation became even more serious, as there were 41,000 reported measles cases and 37 deaths in European countries.

Decreasing vaccination rates

According to Mark Muscat, a technical officer for the immunization program at WHO’s office for Europe, the main reason behind the growing number of measles cases is the insufficient rate of immunization, which normally should reach 95 per cent. Since measles is extremely contagious, it might still spread in a community even if the immunization rate is rather high. Muscat also said that it is “totally unacceptable and tragic that this is happening for a disease that is preventable.”

The reasons behind the decreasing vaccination rates

Many parents were influenced by misleading information stating that vaccines are not safe or necessary. In their report, UNICEF noted that the measles outbreak in Ukraine was caused precisely by this misconception. This Eastern European country reported over 23,000 cases this year, more than half of the total cases on the continent. Other countries that have been heavily affected by measles since 2017 are Greece, Romania, France, Italy and Germany.

Another factor behind the spreading of measles in Europe is a lack of awareness amongst parents, who do not believe that this disease is a serious threat, as it wasn’t common in Europe until recently.

When it comes to the availability of vaccination in various countries, it might differ from one to another. This is why measles usually affects poorer countries with less access to the means of prevention.

Situation in Canada

The situation is different in Canada, according to Dr. Shelley Deeks, chief of communicable diseases and emergency preparedness at Public Health Ontario. In this North American country, parents can vaccine their children for free. As Deeks said, the number of measles cases in Canada is low and they are mostly associated with traveling to countries where this disease is widely present. That’s why it is important for Canadian citizens to make sure that they are vaccinated against measles before the journey.


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