The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for “urgent vaccination efforts” to stop the spread of measles across Europe.
Between January and October 2023, more than 30,000 measles cases were reported by 40 of the 53 European Member states.
We have seen in the Region not only a 30-fold increase in measles cases, but also nearly 21 000 hospitalizations and 5 measles-related deaths,” said WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Henri P. Klugeis. “This is concerning.”
“Vaccination is the only way to protect children from this potentially dangerous disease. Urgent vaccination efforts are needed to halt transmission and prevent further spread,” Kluge continued. “It is vital that all countries are prepared to rapidly detect and timely respond to measles outbreaks, which could endanger progress towards measles elimination.”
Kazakhstan has seen the highest amount of measles cases, with “over 11 300 reported cases among children under 14 years of age in the country” and “70% of them being unvaccinated against measles,” according to a report.
The WHO blamed the COVID pandemic for the health crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted immunization system performance in this period, resulting in an accumulation of un- and under-vaccinated children,” the organization wrote.
Removing COVID-19 mandates also increased the risk of measles, the organization added: “Resumption of domestic and international travel and removal of social and public health measures linked to the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the risk of cross-border disease transmission and spread within communities, especially in un- and under-vaccinated communities.”
American Faith reported in May that a child tested positive for measles in the state of Maine, the first case in the state since 2019.
Maine’s CDC treated the child, who had been vaccinated against the viral disease, and considered the child to be “infectious out of an abundance of caution.”
The development followed a high-risk situation in Sudan, where the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of a potential biological hazard at a seized laboratory holding measles, polio, cholera, tuberculosis, and SARS CoV-2.