7 May 2013 Last updated at 01:07

Threat to measles elimination plans

By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News

Outbreaks of measles are putting Europe’s commitment to eliminate the disease by 2015 under threat, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

Levels of vaccination have been too low in some countries, particularly in rich western European nations.

It says catch-up vaccination campaigns, such as the one launched in the UK, are needed across the continent.

Experts said it was not too late to hit the target, but “extraordinary” effort was needed.

It is theoretically possible to eradicate measles from the planet in the same way smallpox was defeated in 1980.

The 53 nations which form the WHO’s European region, from Portugal to Uzbekistan, have pledged to stop the disease spreading on the continent.

However, there are high numbers of cases in the UK, Turkey, Ukraine and Romania. These follow outbreaks in Italy and France in previous years.

Robb Butler, the technical officer for WHO Europe’s vaccination team, told the BBC: “It’s too early to say the 2015 goal is not achievable, but it is certainly under threat, we would be fools to think it is not under threat.”
Measles outbreak map

Two doses of the MMR vaccine give almost total protection against measles. It is a highly infectious disease, however, if 95% of people are fully immunised it should stop the virus spreading.

Some countries fall short of this target and even in countries with high uptake there are pockets of unvaccinated people.

Claims of a link between the vaccine and autism in 1998, which have since been completely discredited, damaged uptake figures – particularly in the UK.

Dr Pier Luigi Lopalco, the head of vaccine preventable diseases at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said “that story survives” and keeps cropping up across Europe.

He said: “Another problem is the acceptability of vaccination by a part of the population that is becoming larger and larger.

“I’m talking about middle class people that more and more are sceptical towards vaccination and accepting alternative remedies instead.”

Some countries are on target, particularly in Scandinavia and parts of central and eastern Europe. The Ministry of Health in Slovakia said it has not had a case among its own residents since 1998, with cases coming only from abroad.

But across the 53 countries, Dr Lopalco said it would be difficult to reach the target.

He said: “One thing is clear, if we continue to do the same as we did last year we will not reach the goal. We will not do it if we do not put in place extraordinary measures – large catch-up campaigns.”

In response to epidemics in the UK, a large vaccination campaign has been launched to target more than one million schoolchildren who have not had their two doses of MMR.

Mr Butler, at the WHO, said other countries needed to act before they had outbreaks.

“At the European level we would like to see more member states doing what the UK are doing right now – going out and vaccinating adolescents and younger adults.”

He argues that even countries with 97% uptake of the vaccine still have pockets of unvaccinated people so some form of catch-up campaign would be needed.

“I honestly believe most member states need to consider it as one of the best alternatives to seeing increased cases and outbreaks in the future.”

Dr David Elliman, an immunisation expert at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in the UK, said the 2015 target was in danger.

“I think it is very difficult because we are talking about a very infectious disease so it is not like smallpox where uptake of the vaccine could be much lower and you would still be able to eradicate it.

“Unfortunately I think 2015 is very, very optimistic. It is possible, but I think two years hence, I would be surprised.”

  • theunhivedmind

    Dr Andrew Wakefield Defends His Research

  • theunhivedmind

    “Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible. Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so.” -Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society p50, 1953

    The Impact of Science on Society by Bertrand Russell

  • theunhivedmind

    The facts of the matter is there is an agenda to get rid of as many poisonous MMR jabs as possible. This will be to make up for the profits lost due to the truth from Dr Andrew Wakefield getting out a few years ago. Nothing more than big pharma (The Worshipful Company of Apothecaries) out for their pockets and control. Notice how they turn on even their own poisons of old to suit their current agendas. Sickening! Utilize homoeopathic preparations, Pulsatilla and Sulphur to help deal properly with measles. Vaccines did not eradicate diseases, it was the fact we had better hygiene and better living standards. Something Bertrand Russell wanted to reverse in order to aid Malthusian population reduction.

    -= The Unhived Mind

  • theunhivedmind

    Homoeopathics for treating Measles:

    ACONITUM: Useful at the beginning stages of measles, these children have a high fever, a dry barking cough, and red conjunctiva (“pink eye”). Their skin burns and itches, and they feel restless, anxious, and frightened. They toss and turn.

    Apis: In these cases the rash begins but fails to develop fully, and soon disappears, though the child doesn’t feel completely well. Their itching is worse by warmth, and their face and eyelids are puffy.

    BELLADONNA: This remedy is often useful at the beginning stages of the measles when there is sudden onset of a high fever, reddened face, and throbbing headache. They tend to be drowsy, a little delirious, and have some difficulty falling or staying asleep. Despite the fever, they are not very thirsty.

    Bryonia: In these cases the skin eruptions from the measles are delayed. The children have a hard, dry cough and no expectoration. Any motion causes pain. They may experience some mild delirium: the child “wants to go home” even though they are at home.

    Euphrasia: These children have a fever and rash as well as acrid tearing of the eyes and a bland nasal discharge. They become sensitive to light. They have a cough, but only during the day.

    Gelsemium: For these children the onset of symptoms is slow. They have a fever with great weakness and a sense of heaviness, both of the whole body and specifically the eyelids. They are without thirst.

    Kali bic: These children have ropy, stringy discharges from the nose and burning and tearing of the eyes. Their salivary glands are noticeably swollen, and they may experience stitching pains from the ear into the head and neck.

    PULSATILLA: These children experience a mild case of the measles. Their fever is not high, and their symptoms are not too painful. They will, however, have profuse tearing from the eyes and a nasal discharge. They also have a dry cough at night which becomes loose in the daytime. They may have ear inflammation. Although they have a dry mouth, they are without thirst.

    Sulphur: Children with the measles who need this medicine have a purplish appearance. Their itching is aggravated by scratching They have reddened mucous membranes and a great thirst. Their cough and diarrhea are at their worst in the morning.

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