Measles on the rise again in Europe

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

The worst affected country was Romania, with 5,562 cases.

"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.

Romania ranked first with 5,562 reported cases, followed by Italy with 5,006 and Ukraine with 4,767.

World Health Organization says Ireland has a population of 4 749 153 and had an incident rate of 4.4 per one million of population in 2017, meaning there were 21 nationally a year ago, according to its figures.

Other countries with large outbreaks in 2017 were Greece (967 cases), Germany (927), France (520), Belgium (369), Britain (282), Bulgaria (167), Spain (152), Czech Republic (146), and Switzerland (105).

"Elimination of both measles and rubella is a priority goal that all European countries have firmly committed to, and a cornerstone for achieving the health-related Sustainable Development Goals", Dr Jakab continues.

Actions to stop current outbreaks and prevent new ones from taking place include raising public awareness, addressing challenges in access, and improving supply planning and logistics, the World Health Organization added.

However, the figures for Ireland show a reverse trend - with more cases in 2016 than in 2017. (These figures are for people who have received two doses of the vaccine.) Parents have been refusing the vaccine-which hasn't been reliably available anyway, Reuters reported in July.

THE HSE has confirmed another increase in measles detections, as the outbreak worsens in Limerick this week.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a viral infection.

Severe complications can occur, including miscarriage in pregnant women, brain swelling and the risk of death from pneumonia.

Measles is a leading cause of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.

Malta was declared measles and rubella-free in the 2016 report (covering 2015) and has maintained that situation due to its strong immunisation programme. All children should get MMR at 12 months of age and the second dose at 4-5 years of age.

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