Measles cases increase by 400 percent in Europe

Fears were raised by a disgraced former doctor that the measles mumps and rubella vaccine caused autism

"Every new person affected by measles in Europe reminds us that unvaccinated children and adults, regardless of where they live, remain at risk of catching the disease and spreading it to others who may not be able to get vaccinated", said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO's regional director for Europe.

In Europe past year, the disease affected 21,315 people and caused 35 deaths, following a record low of 5,273 cases in 2016.

More than 20,000 cases of measles, for which there is no specific medication, were documented in Europe during 2017.

Worldwide health chiefs have calculated that there has been a 400 per cent rise in the number of measles across Europe in the past year.

According to the HSE, as of today there have been 15 confirmed cases of measles so far this year and 35 probable cases under investigation. One of the worst recent years was 2013, when there were more than 10,000 cases across Europe. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is effective in the prevention of the disease and is administered during childhood, however, the vaccine has also encountered negative publicity as a result of, now discredited, research claiming a link between the vaccine and autism, leading to a number of people in the United States and Europe refusing to be vaccinated.

That's what is happening in Europe, as well.

Young people in Britain who are part of the unprotected "Wakefield cohort" - named after the disgraced former doctor Andrew Wakefield, who raised fears that the triple vaccine caused autism - have been urged to get vaccinated before trips to countries such as Italy.

The process of verifying measles and rubella elimination by country, introduced in 2012, has moved the Region closer to its measles and rubella elimination goal. Vaccine critics have helped lower rates in Italy, the country's health authorities say.

And countries with fewer resources to provide vaccines have trouble getting them even to people who want them.

The WHO revealed that 15 countries in the European region experienced large outbreaks a year ago - that is 100 or more cases.

A leading doctor has said the rising incidence of measles in Ireland could be due to a previous shortfall in vaccinations that has caught up on the population.

"Global measles deaths have decreased by 84 percent worldwide in recent years - from 550,100 deaths in 2000 to 89,780 in 2016", World Health Organization says.

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