European countries usually have very well developed health systems. However, a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) also shows alarming results: the measles are increasing in Europe.
According to the report, last year so many people were infected with measles in Europe as a decade ago. Within a year the number of cases had even tripled, compared with the figures for 2016 even by 15 times.
Altogether 82,600 Europeans would have contracted the highly contagious viral infection by 2018. Seventy-two children and adults died, the WHO said.
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By far the most affected was Ukraine, where most cases of illness have occurred – more than 53,000.
Germany, on the other hand, is doing reasonably well compared to other European countries. The number of new patients has dropped significantly. Approximately 500 cases of measles were reported in 2018, while in 2017 about 900 cases were recorded.
Measles are a classic childhood disease and are very contagious. In extreme cases they can attack the brain and are therefore in some cases considered to be life threatening.
Because they are transmitted through body contact, adolescents and adults can also become ill.
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Although there has been a vaccine against the pathogen since the 1970s, there are still regular regional epidemics.
Experts mention the recent increase in the number of vaccine opponents as a possible cause of periodic outbreaks of measles.