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Progress on measles and rubella in Europe

Wednesday April 6th, 2016

Clear progress is being made in efforts to eliminate measles and rubella in Europe, according to a new analysis.

The report, released yesterday (5 April), comes from the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination.

It states that 32 countries in the European Region interrupted transmission of endemic measles and/or rubella in 2014.

The commission examined the measles and rubella status of 50 of the 53 EU Member States using epidemiological and laboratory surveillance figures.

Experts on the Regional Verification Commission say that, once a country has demonstrated the absence of endemic measles or rubella virus transmission for at least 36 consecutive months, the commission can verify that the disease has been eliminated. They explain that very high immunization coverage (95% or more) with two doses of vaccine against measles and rubella were essential to attain the current results.

The report includes the UK among the successful countries - although it has not yet "eliminated" the diseases. It warns the diseases remain endemic in countries such as Belgium, France, Italy, Poland and Romania.

Countries judged to have eliminated the diseases include the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Andorra and Armenia.

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, the World Health Organisation Regional Director for Europe, said: "Interruption of transmission in more than half of Europe's countries shows that regional elimination of measles and rubella is possible and we are on the right track to achieve it. Momentum must be maintained to sustain this achievement where it is still fragile, and to ensure the remaining endemic countries catch up quickly.

"Complacency anywhere will result in a dangerous resurgence of these preventable diseases and the unnecessary suffering and loss of life that they cause. We call on all of Europe's policy-makers to join forces to eliminate measles and rubella once and for all."

Under-performing countries are urged to identify gaps in surveillance, coverage and annual reporting, and demonstrating full commitment to achieving elimination of measles and rubella throughout the European Region.

[Analysis]

Tags: Europe | Flu & Viruses

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