Nearly four thousand cases of measles in Europe in the first three months of 2019 – The Economic Journal


More than 11,000 cases of measles were reported in a year in 30 European countries, with almost 4,000 cases in the first three months of 2019, according to the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC).

An ECDC report of May 10 analyzes measles data in 30 European countries between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019, pointing to a total of 11,383 cases, 22 of which are fatal.

Italy, France, Romania, Greece and the United Kingdom appear as the five countries with the highest number of cases in the last year analyzed.

In the first three months of this year, there is still a steady increase in the number of measles cases. France, Lithuania, Poland and Bulgaria are the countries with the largest increases in cases during this first quarter. In total, between January and March, 3,790 cases were reported.

All 30 countries reviewed by the ECDC reported cases of measles between April 2018 and April this year, including Portugal, with a total of 68 cases, 60 of them confirmed laboratory.

In the Portuguese case, the vast majority of cases refer to the three outbreaks at the end of last year, which, however, the Directorate-General for Health has already declared as extinct.

Portugal is one of the countries with the lowest number of cases per million inhabitants (6.6), far from countries like France, Italy or Luxembourg, all with more than 30 cases per million inhabitants and also far from the average of 30 countries, with a rate of 22 cases per million inhabitants.

Of the 11,000 reported cases in one year, 30% occurred in children under five and 53% in children over 15 years of age.

The highest reporting rate was in children under one year (255 cases per million) and 12 months to four years (95.8 cases per million).

The measles vaccine, the primary form of disease prevention, is usually given at 12 months. The National Vaccination Program in Portugal states that the first dose of the vaccine should be given at 12 months and the second at 5 years.

Data released on Friday in Portugal by the Directorate-General for Health indicate that 14% of children aged 13 months were not in 2018 protected against measles.

According to ECDC, in the 9,300 cases with known age and vaccination status, more than 75% were not vaccinated, while 14% had only one dose of the vaccine. In 800 cases (5%) patients had the dose of the vaccine.

In vaccinated persons, the disease presents a clinical picture that the health authorities describe as "lighter and with a very low likelihood of contagion (known as modified measles)."

The classic form of measles occurs in unvaccinated persons and is characterized by a clinical picture that can be serious, with complications and even lead to death.



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