Measles cases more than triple in Europe

Measles cases jump by 400% in Europe

Cases of measles have soared across Europe by 400pc

Dr Rose Fitzgerald, a specialist in public health, said that until they go a couple of weeks without any new cases of measles they must remain vigilant.

It's believed the initial case of measles was contracted by a patient who visited the Middle East over the Christmas period. There were 118 people reported to have measles in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared with 86 in 2016.

Greece (967), Germany (927), Serbia (702), Tajikistan (649), France (520), the Russian Federation (408), Belgium (369), the United Kingdom (282), Bulgaria (167), Spain (152), Czechia (146) and Switzerland (105) also experienced large outbreaks, many of which were in decline by the close of 2017.

Malta remained measles-free despite a Europe-wide surge of the disease previous year, according to a surveillance report by the World Health Organisation.

"Over 20,000 cases of measles, and 35 lives lost in 2017 alone, are a tragedy we simply can not accept", said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

"The 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 [UN] Sustainable Development Goals", continued Jakab.

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World Health Organization figures from 2017 show a four-fold increase in outbreaks compared to the record low of 2016, with 21,315 cases reported along with 35 deaths while more than 100 cases were reported in one out of four countries across Europe. The largest outbreaks affected over 5,000 people each in Romania and Italy, and just under 5,000 in Ukraine.

An ongoing outbreak in the Limerick area is now being investigated by the Measles Outbreak Control Team.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a viral infection. Most cases so far are associated with the Ballinacurra Weston and Carew Park (Southill) area of the city.

A free MMR clinic will operate on Wednesday 21 February, from 12 noon - 3pm, at Barrack View Primary Care Centre, Edward Street, Limerick. Other symptoms of measles can include a high fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes.

Health officials have had to strongly argue against a growing global anti-vaccination movement - with some claiming MMR vaccines can cause autism and refusing to immunise their children.

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