MMore than 30,000 cases were registered in 40 of the 53 countries in the region – which includes Russia and several former Soviet republics – between January and October last year, an annual increase of more than 30%, highlights the WHO, indicating that, in 2022, 941 cases were registered.
During this period, there were 20,918 hospitalizations due to measles and five deaths in two countries, WHO-Europe said in a statement.
“The increase has accelerated in recent months and this trend is expected to continue if urgent measures are not taken in the region”, he warns.
Kazakhstan and Russia are the most affected countries, with more than 10,000 cases each.
With 183 cases, the United Kingdom is the country in Western Europe where the resurgence of the disease, considered eliminated in 2021, is most evident.
According to the organization, the resurgence of measles is mainly due to a drop in vaccination coverage between 2020 and 2022 due to the covid-19 pandemic, going from 96% with the first dose in 2019, to 93% three years later.
With the second dose of the vaccine, the number fell from 92% in 2019 to 91% in 2022, according to WHO data, which estimates that more than 1.8 million babies in the region were not vaccinated against measles between 2020 and 2022 .
The elimination of pandemic-related public health and travel restrictions has also increased the risk of cross-border transmission.
The WHO highlights that in many countries where measles had been declared eradicated, cases have now been recorded and there is a risk of outbreaks through the importation of the virus.
The director of WHO-Europe, Hans Kluge, considered this trend “worrying” and argued that the only way to protect children from the disease is through vaccination.
“An urgent boost to vaccination is needed to halt transmission and prevent new infections. It is vital that all countries are prepared to quickly detect measles outbreaks, which could jeopardize progress towards measles elimination,” warned Hans Kluge, quoted in the statement.
The Directorate-General for Health (DGS) registered three cases of measles in Portugal in recent weeks, two of which were imported.
According to the DGS, measles is caused by a virus and is one of the most contagious infectious diseases, transmitted between people by air, through droplets or aerosols from infected people.
Usually the disease is benign, but in some cases it can be serious or lead to death.
Vaccination is the main prevention measure and the vaccine is part of the National Vaccination Program.
Read Also: Portugal with 3 imported cases of measles. “Alarming increase” in Europe
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