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BSI response to WHO report on ongoing European measles outbreaks in 2019

Measles virus. 3D illustration showing structure of measles virus with surface glycoprotein spikes heamagglutinin-neuraminidase and fusion protein15 July 2019

The World Health Organization have announced an update on the ongoing measles outbreak in Europe and efforts to contain this.  84,411 people contracted measles in 2018, with 74 deaths reported.  In January to May this year, 80,345 measles cases have been reported, along with 31 deaths. In response to this news, the British Society for Immunology have issued the following statement:


Professor Arne Akbar, President of the British Society for Immunology, said:

“Measles is a very serious disease, whose spread we can stop in its tracks by use of a safe and effective vaccine.  The recently released statistics from the World Health Organization showing over 80,000 measles cases in Europe to May this year make stark reading for those of us who work in healthcare.  We must redouble efforts to ensure that the public has access to evidenced-based information on the importance of this vaccine and that we make healthcare service as accessible as possible.

“Although the European region is now reporting a small increase in vaccination rate from 88% in 2016 to 91% in 2018, we still must do more.  As measles is so contagious and spreads so easily between individuals, we must increase vaccination uptake to the World Health Organization target of 95% to keep our children and communities protected from this serious disease.”

“Parents who are concerned should talk to their GP in the first instance. If you or your child has missed out on the benefits of vaccination, it’s not too late. Get vaccinated. Don’t regret it by waiting to catch one of these diseases.”


For more information on the figures released, please visit the World Health Organization website.