Is a measles epidemic on its way?

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In Wallonia, 70 persons got infected with measles. The World Health Organization (WHO) fears that the number of infections in Europe will increase.

The disease was not occurring very frequently anymore, but now, its incidence is rising again. In January, 559 cases were counted in Europe. Especially Italy and Romania are facing the worst epidemic in years. Measles is a disease that starts with a cold, including fever and cough. Later on, pale pink spots appear, which become red and spread all over your body. The disease is very contagious: from four days before the first spots appear until four days after they are gone. Especially babies under one year old are at risk because they cannot get a vaccine yet. In the worst case, measles can cause lung and brain inflammation, resulting in death.

“There is no real treatment for measles, but the vaccine prevents infection,” says virologist Marc Van Ranst. “To ensure adequate protection, at least 95% of the population must be vaccinated against measles. Our country easily reaches that percentage, but elsewhere in countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, and Ukraine, that is not the case. Unvaccinated people can get infected while travelling. This was particularly the case with an unvaccinated Belgian, who had traveled to Romania and got infected with the disease there. As soon as he got home, he infected others around him. “

All children in Belgium are systematically vaccinated since 1985. This is not an obligation, but through the efforts of ‘Kind en Gezin’, most parents vaccinate their children.