28 May 2008
BERNE – Swiss soldiers were being recommended to have measles vaccinations to avoid catching the infection when on duty at Euro 2008, according to a statement by government defence officials issued Wednesday.
Some 15,000 troops have been drafted in to Switzerland to help out during the tournament which starts on 7 June.
In April, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned of "significant outbreaks" of measles in the two host countries of Switzerland and Austria and advised fans travelling to the games to have vaccinations.
Since November 2006, Switzerland has been experiencing the largest measles outbreak registered in the country since compulsory notification was introduced in 1999.
According to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) figures there have been 2,250 cases of measles in Switzerland between November 2006 and April 2008.
The cases have involved mainly school-age children (5-14 years), with 98 percent of the cases unvaccinated or only partly vaccinated, mainly due to parental opposition to the vaccine.
In 8 percent of the cases, sufferers required hospital treatment due to complications from the disease which can prove fatal in severe cases.
The ongoing outbreak started among school children in Lucerne and spread across the country and to European neighbours. It has been linked to an outbreak in Germany in 2008.
WHO has recommended a vaccination coverage of more than 95 percent to try to eliminate the disease by 2010 in a European-wide strategy. Coverage in Switzerland is currently running at 78 percent, said WHO.
In a statement the Federal Defence Department said it hoped the move would protect troops exposed to infection.
[dpa / Expatica]
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