In DepthInfectious Disease

Measles epidemic in Ukraine drove troubling European year

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Science  15 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6428, pp. 677-678
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6428.677

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Measles cases surged to nearly 83,000 in Europe in 2018—a 21st-century record and more than triple number in 2017, the World Health Organization announced last week. Driving the number was a massive and growing outbreak in Ukraine, where more than 54,000 cases were reported in 2018 and more than 15,000 have been logged already in 2019. Measles is extremely contagious and vaccine-preventable. Its complications can kill.The Ukranian epidemic stems from a decade of vaccine resistance and from vaccine supply disruptions after political upheaval and armed conflict broke out in 2014. In 2016, just 31% of Ukranian 6-year-olds had received the recommended two measles shots—a rate among the lowest in the world. "It's egregious to have people have measles in the 21st century in a European country," says Ulana Suprun, Ukraine's acting minister of health, who is steering an urgent government response to the epidemic.