Measles cases surge in Europe as three more countries join the UK is no longer being infection-free.
The WHO blames disinformation about vaccines on social media for the rise in cases.
In the first six months of 2019, Europe counted approximately 90,000 cases of measles – more than in the whole world of 2018 (84,462). The statistics are according to the World Health Organization.
The latest figures following the announcement earlier this month that the United Kingdom has lost its status of having effectively eliminated the disease. The country had been declared free of measles in 2017.
Additionally, it has been joined by Albania, the Czech Republic and Greece in being removed from the list by European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination.
It estimated infection data from 53 different countries and observed that by the end of 2018, 35 countries in total had reached or maintained the elimination of measles.
The World Health Organization stated that the surge in measles cases was partially due to misinformation about vaccines advertising on social media. It described this phenomenon as contagious, and dangerous as the diseases it spreads.
Dr. Gunter Pfaff, chairman of the RV, stated that “Re-establishment in every community, both children and adults will suffer unnecessarily, and some will tragically pass away”.
Professor Martin Marshall, the vice-chairman to the Royal College of GPS, defined these findings to be “disheartening”.
“While take-up of the MMR vaccination across the UK are still high, it is not high enough, and we have actually seen a small decline in recent years,” he said.
“It’s very clear that we are still suffering from the entierly exposed claims around the MMR that were preserved in the 90s – and are not unfortunately resurgent on social media and other platforms.
“Of course, work is still continuing across the NHS to ensure messages about the safety and life-saving nature of vaccinations are heard and understood. It’s encouraging that WHO has increased its focus on the elimination of measles, and upgraded the action to address the challenges which allowed this deadly virus to persist in countries like the UK.
The WHO infection figures come while the social media company “Pinterest” announced earlier that it would only provide evidence-based information from well-known health experts to its users in a bid to tackle the health misinformation.
The said company will give users resources from sources like
- the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
- the American Academy of Pediatrics
and the WHO established Vaccine Safety Net when they search for similar terms.
The WHO stated: “Social media platforms are the way many people get their information and they will likely be a major source of information for the generations to come.
“We see this as a very critical and sensitive issue, and one that needs our collective efforts to protect people’s health and their lives”