If you are pregnant and are likely to be traveling in Europe during the rest of the summer then you should consult your doctor about being vaccinated against measles if you have not already had the disease.(If you have had measles you have a lifelong immunity).
You should also check that members of your family who have not already had measles are up to date on their vaccinations.
There were nearly 800 cases in the first three weeks of the year compared to only 274 in the whole of 2017 in the UK. Outbreaks in certain European countries continue to cause concern and the cause is a lack of consistency in the percentage of the population being vaccinated.
There is a term ‘herd immunity’ which is the percentage at which optimum immunity is achieved. In the case of measles it is when 95% of the population has been vaccinated with the second dose of vaccine.
Most of those getting measles are over 15, however babies up to a year old cannot be vaccinated, and are therefore reliant on the herd immunity to protect them from coming into contact with someone with the disease.
As you will see from the report there are certain countries where 87% of the population is unvaccinated
What is Measles
Although we associate measles with a rash, it is in fact a viral respiratory disease also known as rubeola. Extremely contagious, it is spread through contact with a person’s infected saliva or mucus through coughing or by touching surfaces they have contaminated where the virus can live for several hours.
Within a close knit unit such as a family or classroom it is very difficult to not come into contact with the infected person, or their immediate surroundings which are contaminated. This is how it spreads so quickly, especially if everyone is unvaccinated.
A rash does appear within three to five days of exposure to the virus, usually the first sign is an itchy scalp as the rash usually spreads downwards from the head. It is important to consult a doctor immediately especially if you are pregnant or you have an infant under a year old and unvaccinated.
Anyone with a compromised immune system is also at risk and needs to ensure that they are vaccinated.
Other symptoms of measles usually appear within 14 days of exposure.
- Cough and cold symptoms such as a runny nose and sore throat
- High fever
- Red eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Muscle aches
- White spots that appear inside the mouth
If you think that you have been in contact with someone with measles and your vaccinations are not up to date, go to your doctor immediately for a booster as this should prevent you developing the disease.
Here are a couple of reports .. one from the Daily Mail and one from the ECDPC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Measles warning to pregnant women: Midwives urge mothers-to-be to make sure they are vaccinated as a deadly outbreak spreads through Europe
- Some 781 cases occurred between the start of the year and January 22
- Compared to just 274 throughout 2017, according to Public Health England
- Outbreaks are occurring in Italy, Germany, Greece, France and Romania
- To prevent an outbreak, 95% of the population should be immunised
- Only 91.9% of children were vaccinated against measles between 2015 and 16
Pregnant women have been urged to ensure that they are protected against measles as cases of the infection continue to rise.
Midwives from Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust are encouraging expectant mothers to get up-to-date on their jabs, with previous research linking measles to stillbirths, miscarriages and premature labours.
Janet Cairns, head of midwifery at the Trust, said: ‘Now is the time to check if you are vaccinated against measles.
‘If you are pregnant and have been in contact with someone with measles, please contact your GP or midwife’.
This comes just weeks after the Royal College of Nursing urged European holidaymakers to ensure they are up-to-date before their travels, with Greece, Italy, Romania, Germany, France and Serbia all experiencing unusually high measles rates.
You can read the rest of the article here:Measles outbreak – Daily Mail
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
Measles outbreaks continue to occur in a number of EU/EEA countries, and there is a risk of spread and sustained transmission in areas with susceptible populations.
Between 1 February 2017 and 31 January 2018, 14 732 cases of measles were reported to the European Surveillance System by 30 EU/EEA countries according to ECDC’s monthly measles and rubella monitoring report published today. Most cases were reported by Romania (5 224), Italy (4 978), Greece (1 398) and Germany (906), accounting for 35%, 34%, 9% and 6%, respectively, of all cases reported by EU/EEA countries.
Fifteen EU/EEA countries reported 1 073 cases of measles in January 2018 (Source: TESSy). Greece and France in particular reported an increased number of cases.
According to more recent data published in ECDC’s Communicable Disease Threat Report (CDTR), obtained through epidemic intelligence, the highest number of measles cases in the EU since 1 January 2018 were in Greece (1 008), Romania (757), France (429) and Italy (164). Seven deaths have been reported from these 4 countries – Romania (3), Italy (2), Greece (1) and France (1).
Measles is a severe disease and since the beginning of 2016, 57 deaths due to the disease have been reported in the EU.
Measles affects all age groups across Europe, and according to the data up to 31 January 2018 in the monthly measles and rubella monitoring report, 45% of measles cases with known age were aged 15 years or older – highlighting gaps in cohorts of individuals that missed-out vaccination. However, the highest incidence of cases was reported in infants below one year of age, being those most at risk of severe complications and deaths– and too young to have received the first dose of the vaccine. Such infants are best protected by herd immunity, which is achieved when population coverage for the second dose of a measles-containing vaccine is at least 95%.
The continued spread of measles across Europe is due to suboptimal vaccination coverage in many EU/EEA countries: of all measles cases reported with known vaccination status, 87% were in unvaccinated individuals.
Read the rest of the report: Outbreak 2018 ongoing and fatalities four countries
Boosts to the outbreak.
- Families going on holiday to countries where there is a low vaccination rate and a high number of reported cases. For mothers-to-be and also infants. And the risk of bringing back the infection to pass onto others at risk.
- In September when school starts, if not all children have been fully vaccinated they run the risk of catching measles and passing it on to younger members of the family or if their mother is pregnant.
- Holiday makers coming into the country from areas of Europe where there is a vaccinations shortfalls.
- Travel on planes that are on routes to those countries with high infection rates and where the virus has contaminated seats, tray tables and surroundings. Since the virus is live for several hours there is a risk of passing on that virus every time new passengers board.
Avoiding the virus
It is tough, especially when moving out of your home environment which you can control by ensuring surfaces are wiped down with hot water and soap and that bed linens and towels are washed frequently. But even then, people sneeze or touch their noses and then furniture, crockery, cutlery etc. Others come along and touch the surface and then their nose and mouth.
Washing hands regularly is key and teaching even young children to do this simple routine is very important.
It is also important to ensure that your vaccinations are up to date if you have not already had measles. Vaccinations for measles was only introduced in 1963 so that means that there is a large sector of the population who was not vaccinated as a child and who has not had the virus. It was a common disease when I was a child and I had measles at age three which gave me immunity. But there are people approaching their 70s and 80 who should also consider themselves at risk, especially around younger members of the family who contract the disease.
In this post I looked at the Aussie Flu earlier in the year and I also looked at more ways to prevent infection and to boost the immune system with a specific focus on nutrient rich foods.
©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018
My nutritional background
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.
You can find all my books here with links to Amazon: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/
I hope that this has given you something to think about.. if you have any questions please fire away. thanks Sally