Measles infections in Europe hit decade high in 2018

A pedestrian walks past an informational sign about the measles in the entrance of the Kaiser Perman

A pedestrian walks past an informational sign about the measles in the entrance of the Kaiser Perman

The vaccines include MMR, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, and MMR-V, which also protects against the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox.

Vaccination rates for measles, mumps and rubella in Ukraine fell sharply over a number of years during its conflict with Russian Federation, reaching 31% in 2016 - among the lowest in the world.

The Washington State Health Department hasn't identified "patient zero" in the Clark County measles outbreak that has tallied 50 confirmed cases in Clark County and 55 total cases in Washington and OR since January 1. Among the confirmed cases, 43 were not immunized against the highly contagious disease. Measles infection can have serious complications such as pneumonia, seizures and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

In the United Kingdom, there were 953 measles cases past year.

"These outbreaks are associated with travelers who brought measles back from Israel and Ukraine, where large measles outbreaks are occurring", the CDC says.

Two adults died from measles in 2017 in the UK. In Washington state, permissive vaccination rules are being blamed for the outbreak. In Clark County, which has so far seen 49 measles cases in children mainly under 10, only 78 per cent of young people from kindergarten through high school have been vaccinated.

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Ukraine reported the highest number of measles cases past year across Europe, while more than 90% of cases were in 10 countries, including France, Italy and Greece.

While families in Madagascar have difficulty accessing the measles vaccine, outbreaks in Europe and the USA are often linked to vaccine hesitancy - the reluctance of parents to vaccinate their children because of unfounded fears about the treatment.

These new Multnomah County cases are linked to the Clark County outbreak.

While more children in Europe are being vaccinated against measles than ever before, progress has been "uneven" between countries and individual countries have some patches where vaccine take-up is low, it said.

Only two provinces, Ontario and New Brunswick, require children to have updated vaccination records in order to enter school.

On Wednesday, officials sent letters to families of 5,000 children in Multnomah County, telling them they'll be excluded from school if they don't have up-to-date immunizations or valid exemptions by February 20. One person had one dose of the vaccine, which is 93 percent effective. Julie Graham, a public information officer with the Health Department, said those reports are inaccurate.

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