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Measles outbreak warning

Monday December 5th, 2011

Western Europe is facing a major outbreak of measles - with several deaths recorded in France, the World Health Organisation has warned.

WHO has called on European countries to increase surveillance and step up vaccination programmes to control the outbreak.

It has recorded some 26,000 cases of measles in the first ten months of the year. More than half of these have been in France and 83 per cent in western Europe.

The outbreak in Europe has only been out-stripped by the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, where there has been an epidemic involving more than 100,000 cases.

WHO said there was evidence of measles from Europe causing outbreaks in countries in Asia and in the USA.

Almost all cases involved adolescents and adults who have not been vaccinated. There have been six deaths in France.

In France a nationwide campaign has now been launched to promote vaccination - with all those under the age of 32 being encouraged to ensure they have been protected.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, said: “The increase in measles in European countries reveals a serious challenge to achieving the regional measles elimination goal by 2015.

“Every country in the European Region must take the opportunity now to raise coverage amongst susceptible populations, improve surveillance and severely reduce measles virus circulation before the approaching measles high season."

Tags: Child Health | Europe | Flu & Viruses

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