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WHO warn of measles outbreak in Europe

Measles virus. 3D illustration showing structure of measles virus with surface glycoprotein spikes heamagglutinin-neuraminidase and fusion proteinThe World Health Organization (WHO) have warned that a measles outbreak is spreading across Europe, wherever immunisation levels have dropped below the recommended 95%. The two countries most affected to date are Italy and Romania. With current travel patterns, the WHO warn that all countries within Europe are at risk.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications in some people.

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe said, “I urge all endemic countries to take urgent measures to stop transmission of measles within their borders, and all countries that have already achieved this to keep up their guard and sustain high immunization coverage. Together we must make sure that the hard-earned progress made towards regional elimination is not lost.”

Latest figures for England show that uptake of the first dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, given at around one year of age, was 91.9% coverage in 2015-16, with 88.2% of children having received both doses of the vaccine by the age of five. The UK aims to immunise 95% of children to prevent the disease spreading, in line with WHO recommendations.

Read World Health Organization press release

Read the BSI response to 2015-16 immunisation statistics


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