Measles returns in Europe, it is a reality that has triggered the alarms and that the health authorities attribute to the anti-vaccine movement.

Return to measles in Europe, with 35 deaths and 21,000 cases in 2017 according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), one of the diseases that were believed totally controlled and can be prevented with the vaccine. And here radically precisely the reason to which health experts attribute the worrying rise of cases of measles in Europe, to the anti-vaccine movement whose message seems to have gone deeper than expected. Health authorities warn of the risks of not vaccinating children, and extensive to unvaccinated adults, regardless of where they live, and the lack of scientific evidence of the arguments on which this current is based.

A potentially dangerous anti-vaccine movement that generates distrust towards vaccines and the appearance of new outbreaks of diseases almost eradicated in many areas of the world. Measles is one of them, and the consequences of parents’ decision not to vaccinate children against measles can put their lives at risk. Measles is an infectious viral disease, highly contagious, and manifested with reddish skin rashes all over the body, accompanied by a cough, high fever (above 38.5 °), congested nose and red eyes.

Measles outbreaks in Europe

The number of cases of measles in Europe increased by 400% in 2017 with respect to the previous year (2016), in which 5,273 were registered. An increase described as “a tragedy”, in the words of the director of the European office of this United Nations agency, Zsuzsanna Jakab, in the presentation of the report in a meeting on vaccines held in Montenegro and whose figures have raised the alarm the outbreaks of measles in Europe. The WHO attributes this increase to the reduction of vaccine coverage.

In 15 of the 53 countries in the European zone, including Russia, there were outbreaks of measles, 100 or more cases. The largest number of cases was registered in Romania, with 5,562 cases; followed by Italy, with 5,006; Ukraine, with 4,767. WHO regrets that these countries have suffered a decrease in vaccine coverage. The Italian government passed a law obliging parents to vaccinate their children or face a fine.

In Spain, 152 cases were registered, far behind countries such as Greece, with 967 cases; Germany, with 927 cases; Serbia, 702; Tajikistan, 649; or France, 520.

Sanitary alert for measles

returns measles health warning

The sanitary alert for measles has once again focused on the anti-vaccine movement, despite the fact that the study on which they relied on their day to oppose vaccines was discredited and widely rejected by the scientific community. An article published in 1998 by the British ex-physician Andrew Wakefield in which he defended the relationship between the vaccine against measles, rubella, and mumps with autism. Without scientific evidence, and although the article was subsequently withdrawn and Wakefield disowned in 2010 to practice as a doctor, distrust generated a current that convinced fathers and mothers, mistakenly led by the belief that they were doing the right thing for their children’s health.

The WHO warns that the lower the vaccination rates, the greater the risk of outbreaks, requiring vaccine coverage of more than 95% of the population.

Mercury in vaccines

returns measles mercury vaccines

Another argument of the anti-vaccination movement that the health authorities have taken to the ground is that of mercury in vaccines, specifically the use of thimerosal or thiomersal, a preservative based on ethyl mercury that is used in vials containing more than one dose of a vaccine (multiple-dose vials) to prevent germs, bacteria or fungi from contaminating the vaccine, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It is used in extremely small doses so that it is not toxic. In fact, there is no scientific study linking thimerosal in vaccines with health risks for children or adults. Currently, in Spain, none of the vaccines in the children’s calendar contains thimerosal.

You have to get vaccinated against measles

The vaccination schedule for children includes the measles vaccine, and it is essential to administer the two doses. In case of not vaccinated, and has been in contact with a contagious person, the health authorities recommend administering the vaccine within 72 hours.

Roald Dahl’s letter after the death of her daughter of measles is an almost obligatory reading for parents who still may have doubts about the efficacy of the vaccine and why there is a vaccination against measles.