European Travel Warning Issued as Major Measles Outbreak Infects 34,000
Health officials say people from 42 countries now impacted by outbreak
Health officials have issued a warning for those planning to travel to Europe after a major measles outbreak has now infected 34,000 people from 42 different European countries, according to reports.
A large number of patients infected with the measles was noted during the first two months of 2019.
Most of the recorded cases are in Ukraine, where several people have died.
The outbreak has now extended to other countries, however, with some patients contracting the strain in the US and Asia.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning, urging people to get vaccinated if they plan on traveling.
Experts warn the outbreaks are likely to spread if the “response is not timely and comprehensive.”
According to the New York Post, measles diagnoses have reached more than 25,000 in Ukraine alone and the disease has killed 13 total among there, Romania and Albania.
Outbreaks have also been identified in Thailand, the Philippines, and the United States.
“Every opportunity should be used to vaccinate susceptible children, adolescents, and adults,” said WHO officials.
Officials note that a vast majority of these cases are in unvaccinated people.
In 2017, the European region reached its highest-ever measles vaccination rate at around 90 percent.
But experts agree that herd immunity — which describes sufficient disease resistance in a community — for the measles should be closer to 95 percent to achieve relative eradication of the virus.
Over the past three years, some countries have lagged in immunization among marginalized and vulnerable groups.
Last month, the United Nations children’s fund released a report revealing that every year, more than 20 million children have missed their measles vaccine for the last eight years.
Measles can cause blindness, deafness or brain damage, and has no known cure, but can be prevented with two doses of the vaccine.
“The impact on public health will persist until the ongoing outbreaks are controlled,” the report reads.
Officials are pushing local authorities to “identify who has been missed in the past and reach them with the vaccines they need” as soon as possible.