At least 21,315 people cases of measles (including 35 deaths) were reported across Europe in 2017, a 400 percent increase from 2016. The countries most affected were Romania (5562 cases), Italy (5006 cases), and Ukraine (4767 cases), with Greece, Germany, Serbia, France, Russia, Belgium, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Spain, Czechia, and Switzerland each registering fewer than 1000 cases. Experts link the outbreak to declining immunization habits and periodic vaccine supply shortages.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that typically affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of infected persons. The disease remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
Symptoms of measles are usually a high fever, which begins approximately ten to 12 days after exposure to the virus and lasts four to seven days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage. After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over about three days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for five to six days and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of seven to 18 days).
Individuals in or planning travel to Europe are advised to ensure their vaccinations are up to date and to contact their doctor with any questions or concerns. Anyone experiencing the above symptoms is urged to seek immediate medical attention.