Measles infections in Europe hit decade high in 2018

08 February, 2019, 04:08 | Author: Kara Nash
  • A measles outbreak near Portland Ore. has revived a bitter debate over so-called “philosophical” exemptions to childhood vaccinations. MMR protects against measles mumps and rubella

In Clark County, Washington - where about 50 people have been infected since the outbreak started - more than 6 times as many people were vaccinated for measles from January 13 to February 2 compared to the same period previous year, according to a spokesperson for Washington State Department of Health.

The Northwest cases are among three ongoing measles outbreaks in the US that sickened 79 people in January, according to the CDC. Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2017 ChildVaxView Report, which details MMR vaccination coverage among children 19-35 months by state and region using data from the National Immunization Survey-Child from 2017, reports that Washington state has the sixth lowest coverage rate in the nation at 88.5%.

Legislation in the state of NY permits vaccine exemptions for individuals who have religious beliefs against immunization.

"In adopting EVAP, all countries in the European Region agreed that elimination of measles and rubella is possible, and is also a cost-effective way to protect people of all ages from avoidable suffering and death", says Dr Nedret Emiroglu, Director of the Division of Health Emergencies and Communicable Diseases, WHO Regional Office for Europe.

While more children in Europe are being vaccinated against measles than ever before, progress has been "uneven" between countries and individual countries have some patches where vaccine take-up is low, it said.

"The strain D8 in Washington's outbreak matches the strain from an ongoing Eastern European outbreak".

Only two provinces, Ontario and New Brunswick, require children to have updated vaccination records in order to enter school.

"We're hopeful and any time we see that there are no new exposure locations that's helpful", said Marissa Armstrong, spokeswoman for the Clark County Public Health.


And leading health officials are stressing the importance of getting vaccinated.

Of those, 72 cases killed the infected.

What Other Cities Are at Risk?

"State and local health officials now need to work with their state legislatures to close the loopholes that allow non-medical exemptions for reasons of personal belief, as was done previously in California", said the study's lead author, Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, in a previous interview with Contagion.

Washington health officials have identified "patient zero" in the measles outbreak as someone from outside the country.

Looking Ahead Where will the next big measles outbreak spring up in the United States?

Canada has had a number of measles outbreaks in recent years.

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