Vaccination Shortage Leads to Record Number of Measles Cases in Europe

REUTERS

All countries in Europe have surpassed the total number of cases of measles, the Center for Disease Control has reported, where the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show a total of 23,937 cases of measles across the continent, which makes it the No. 1 communicable disease on the continent for the first time since 2007. In Europe, the majority of measles cases are occurring in the Netherlands and Germany, and the largest spike in infection occurred in France between August 2015 and May 2016, when rates shot up by more than 500 cases in the country per month. There has not been a decline in the outbreak in France since.

In a statement, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said the increase in infections was due “almost entirely” to a large number of unvaccinated residents. Citing a lack of “geographic spread” by the virus, the ECDC stated that 75 percent of confirmed cases were in people under the age of 25.

Once, measles was considered so harmless that vaccinating could lead to a milder form of the disease, as when some children had contracted the illness early in life.

With the measles outbreak, as was reported in The New York Times earlier this month, a chorus of both European and American officials has sounded the alarm. Some European officials have said they will change the way people are tested for the virus, as people with a strain of the virus known as “latent” were apparently getting the measles without realizing they were vaccinated against it. It is not clear how many patients may have unknowingly suffered an untreated case of measles and had to miss work for that.

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