Intended for healthcare professionals


Measles outbreak in Europe

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 15 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3724
  1. Simon Cottrell, epidemiological scientist1,
  2. Richard John Roberts, head2
  1. 1Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, Public Health Wales, Temple of Peace, Cardiff CF10 3NW, UK
  2. 2Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme, Public Health Wales, Cardiff
  1. simon.cottrell{at}

Despite the current threat in Europe rates of infection are declining globally

Current outbreaks of measles in Europe are a reminder of the important risks of death and serious morbidity associated with measles. Between 2009 and 2010, cases of measles increased dramatically in Europe, with notifications increasing from 7175 to 30 367.1 In 2010 most reported cases were in Bulgaria (22 005), but there were also 5019 in France, 861 in Italy, 787 in Germany, 406 in Ireland, 397 in the United Kingdom, and 302 in Spain. Of these, 21 877 people were admitted to hospital and 21 died (case fatality 0.69 deaths/1000 reported cases); 71% of people infected were aged under 20 years and 85% were unvaccinated. The World Health Organization has reported outbreaks in 24 European countries already this year.2 There is little sign of a decrease in cases in 2011, and travel has facilitated transmission between countries. From January to March 2011, 9349 cases were reported, and 18 of 32 reporting countries found that the incidence of measles was higher than during the same period in 2010.3

Currently the French outbreak is the largest in Europe and it has not yet peaked. Since it began in 2008, France …

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