13 jan 2009-- Measles remains a public health problem in Europe, and there are “serious doubts” that it can be eliminated by 2010 as health officials had hoped, according to a new report in The Lancet.
Euvac.net, an online network that tracks infectious diseases for the European Community, compiled data from 32 countries from Iceland to Turkey.
For 2006 and 2007, there were 12,132 cases of measles in Europe. Most were in five countries: Britain, Germany, Italy, Romania and Switzerland. Seven deaths were recorded.
(By contrast, in third-world countries, about 200,000 children a year die of measles, usually because they are malnourished and get no medical care. In the last decade, vaccine campaigns have brought death rates down from 750,000 a year.)
Most European cases were in the general population, but there were outbreaks in particular groups, including Roma and Sinti — sometimes called gypsies — in Italy and Romania, “travelers” in Britain and Norway, and Orthodox Jews in Belgium and Britain.
The Swiss cases were concentrated in Lucerne, the German ones in Bavaria and Hesse. Other reports have noted that in those areas, vaccination rates are lower in families rated “hard to reach” by the authorities and in schools that practice homeopathy and the medical philosophy of the 19th- and early-20th-century theorist Rudolf Steiner.
Six years ago, pediatricians in Germany and Switzerland had a brief public dispute over whether visitors to each other’s countries needed precautionary measles shots.