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Measles Cases in Europe Soar 45-Fold in 2023, Highlighting Hardest-Hit Nations

Measles cases in Europe spiked dramatically, increasing from 941 in 2022 to 42,200 in 2023.
This 45-fold rise has impacted 41 of the 53 countries in the World Health Organization's (WHO) Europe region. The WHO emphasizes the critical need for increased vaccinations to prevent the disease's spread.

Russia and Kazakhstan experienced the highest number of cases, with 10,000 each, followed by Britain with 183 cases in Western Europe. The January to October period saw nearly 21,000 hospitalizations and five deaths related to measles, raising significant concern from the WHO.

Approximately 1.8 million infants across Europe missed their measles vaccinations from 2020 to 2022, highlighting the importance of ensuring that countries detect and respond swiftly to measles outbreaks to maintain progress toward elimination.

Measles, a highly contagious virus, typically affects children and is characterized by symptoms like a rash and cold-like signs. It can lead to serious complications.

The measles vaccine, usually combined with mumps and rubella in the MMR shot, is administered in two doses, with the first given at nine months and the second between 15 and 18 months of age. For effective community immunity, at least 95% of the population should be vaccinated.

Global vaccination rates have declined, with only 83% of children worldwide receiving the first measles dose in their first year—a decrease from pre-pandemic levels and the lowest since 2008. Europe's second-dose coverage dropped to 92%. In Britain's Birmingham area, full vaccination rates fell to 81%.

The WHO reported an estimated 128,000 measles deaths globally in 2021, primarily among unvaccinated children under five. Between 2000 and 2021, measles vaccinations have been credited with preventing around 56 million deaths.

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