Europe Witnesses 30-Fold Increase in Measles Cases

As per WHO, Europe reported over 30,000 measles cases in 2023 – a shocking 30 times rise compared to 2022 numbers. This underscores a troubling reversal in a preventable infectious disease that can turn fatal for vulnerable groups. 40 countries logged cases, demonstrating the outbreak’s widespread nature.

Heavy disease burden

Alongside the spike in infections, Europe also saw nearly 21,000 measles-linked hospitalizations and 5 deaths last year. Sizeable measles outbreaks place immense strain on healthcare systems and resources. Russia and Kazakhstan were the worst hit with 10,000 cases each. Britain led Western Europe with 183 cases.

Pandemic disrupts vaccination

A key driver is lower measles immunization coverage due to COVID-19 pandemic disruptions. Around 1.8 million infants in the WHO Europe region missed scheduled measles vaccine doses during 2020-2022. Falling vaccination rates have raised population susceptibility.

Herd immunity diluted

With vaccine coverage dropping below 95% required for herd immunity, measles has come surging back. The highly infectious virus spreads fast among unprotected individuals, especially children. Achieving uniformly high vaccination levels is vital to break transmission chains and prevent epidemics.

Elimination goals under threat

The European measles flare-up jeopardizes the WHO goal of eliminating the disease by 2030 globally. Success hinges on sustaining high vaccine coverage plus rapid detection and response capacities across all countries. Any immunity gaps can trigger large outbreaks and enable measles to regain lost ground.

Call for urgent action

With countries now lifting COVID restrictions, WHO has flagged Europe’s measles situation as demanding immediate and coordinated action. Accelerating vaccination campaigns among infants and filling immunity gaps across age groups is absolutely critical to curtail transmission.

Enhancing surveillance

Alongside ramping up immunization, enhancing disease surveillance systems to swiftly spot outbreaks and isolate cases is also essential. This will limit future costly epidemics and help consolidate the pre-pandemic gains made towards measles elimination this decade.

Shared responsibility

With cross-border community transmission, measles control requires collective regional effort. Affordable vaccine access for lower-income countries coupled with public awareness programmes and transparency from governments to declare outbreaks are key collective responsibilities.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *