The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has reported a high risk of measles in Europe, with cases being imported and exported between countries. Measles cases reported from EU/EEA countries more than tripled in 2017 (to 14,600), compared with 2016, according to a recent rapid risk assessment published by the Centre [1,2].
This is largely due to lower MMR vaccine uptake in many European countries. Romania, Italy, Germany, Greece and France are all currently experiencing large measles outbreaks with fatalities.
Although the overall risk to the UK population is low, in England there have been 168 laboratory-confirmed measles cases this year. London, South East, West Midlands and the South West regions have reported the most cases. About half of the cases in England in 2018 have been in people over 15 years of age .
The UK achieved WHO measles elimination status last year. However ongoing measles outbreaks on the continent mean that cases may continue to occur in unimmunised individuals and limited onward spread can occur in communities with low MMRcoverage, and in age groups with very close mixing .
Latest PHE “COVER” data (vaccine coverage achieved by the UK childhood immunisation programme) are published in this issue of HPR. The report, covering the October to December 2017 quarter, indicate that MMR coverage across the UK as a whole was 91.6% for first-dose MMR vaccine, and 88.0% for second-dose vaccine .
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