France leads EU surge in measles: US survey
Measles outbreaks have become widespread in Europe over the past two years, with France leading in new cases, because more people are skipping vaccinations, US health authorities said Thursday.
The report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the rise in measles began in late 2009, after six years of decline in Europe.
France has reported the highest number of cases so far this year, with about 14,000 of the 26,000 cases in the region as of October 26, the CDC said.
Nine deaths associated with measles were reported -- six in France, one in Germany, one in Kyrgyzstan, and one in Romania. Seven of those deaths were in children under 10.
"Overall, the primary reason for the increased transmission and outbreaks of measles in the European region is failure to vaccinate susceptible populations," said the CDC report.
Measles broke out in both large communities and small groups with "religious or philosophical objections to vaccination (and) underserved populations with limited health-care access, health-care facilities, and schools," it said.
In order to reach global health targets of eliminating measles by 2015, the CDC recommended that vaccinations cover 95 percent of the population with two doses of measles-containing vaccine.
The World Health Organization warned in 2009 of a trend of declining immunization rates and said outbreaks were on the rise as a result.
Paradoxically, the WHO pointed out, children in affluent countries have a greater risk of infection because of skepticism about immunization or the belief that the disease is not serious because it was largely under control in Western nations.
Measles is a contagious respiratory illness characterized by high fever and the eruption of small red spots.
© 2011 AFP