Europe’s measles outbreak worries US

Gary Finnegan

Gary Finnegan

May 18th, 2011

Gary Finnegan
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‘The series of which has gripped Europe is sparking global fears of further outbreaks as international travellers continue to spread the disease. ’

Measles-outbreakAuthorities from the United States to Indonesia, and from the Canary Islands to the United Kingdom, have issued health warnings after France recorded a major spike in new measles cases in the first quarter of 2011.

The severity of Europe’s problem has led to speculation that the continent will fail to meet its WHO/EU .

US urges vaccination

There is considerable concern that holidaymakers will unwittingly carry the disease back to parts of the United States where measles cases have been relatively rare. The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) said a growing number of children were “importing” measles to the US.

The CDC is investigating seven recent cases of measles in children under the age of two, none of whom had been vaccinated against the disease. The American authorities have urged parents to give their children the MMR vaccine earlier than normal if they intend to travel overseas.

Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, said the US is on course to record more measles cases in 2011 than any other year in the past decade, with 39% of infections linked with travel to Europe. The Spotlight is fixed firmly on outbreaks in France and Switzerland.

x“In the last 15 years or so, there’s been a lot of cases in the United Kingdom, although their numbers are actually down relatively this year,” said Dr Gregory Armstrong of the CDC. “There are more cases in Switzerland and France this year than we’ve seen previously. But there is measles in a number of European countries, including Spain.”

Europe’s measles crisis has led authorities to examine ways of developing awareness campaigns, as public health surveillance figures show low rates of immunisation among hard-to-reach groups such as the Roma community.

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See the WHO’s latest bulletin on measles and polio in Europe

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