Epidemiological update: Measles - monitoring European outbreaks, 16 March 2017

Epidemiological update

​An ongoing measles outbreak in Romania since February 2016 continuously see increase in number of cases reported despite having implemented, and continuously undertaking, response measures at national level through reinforced vaccination activities. In 2016, a number of EU/EEA countries have reported measles outbreaks and an increase in the number of cases continues to be observed in 2017.  

Previous and ongoing measles outbreaks in three other EU countries have been epidemiologically linked to the current outbreak in Romania. However, additional knowledge on genotypic characterisation of the virus is needed to allow further insight into the epidemiological investigations.

Several EU and EEA Member States reported measles cases, listed below.

Austria: Since the beginning of 2017 and as of 8 March, Austria has reported 69 cases of measles which exceeds the number of cases reported throughout 2016. No new cases were reported in the past week.

Belgium: Since 20 December 2016 and as of 8 March, Belgium has recorded 163 cases of measles in Wallonia. Half of the cases are hospitalised. Fifteen cases are among healthcare workers. The number of new cases per week is increasing.

Denmark: On 15 March 2017, Denmark reported an imported case of measles in an unvaccinated adult who got infected during holidays in Asia.

France: Since the beginning of 2017, measles cases are detected in several departments in France. Moselle is currently the most affected area with an outbreak of more than 50 cases as of 14 March 2017. In France 85% of the cases are unvaccinated.

Germany: Since the beginning of 2017 and by mid March, 203 cases have been reported in Germany compared to 326 throughout 2016. Of the 203 cases, 66 are from Hesse, 54 from Leipzig and 77 from Duisburg. According to media, of the 66 cases in Hesse, 60 werein Wiesbaden city. Of the 77 cases in Duisburg, 61 are children and 22 of them are younger than one year.

Since January 2017 and as of 15 March, Berlin reported 31 cases. As of 3 March 2017, Baden-Württemberg reported 19 cases.

Hungary: Between 21 February and 8 March 2017, 13 cases of measles have been reported among healthcare workers. According to media, up to 13 March, there are 41 cases compatible with measles.

Italy: From the beginning of the year to mid-March 2017, media, quoting authorities, has reported 700 cases. This represents an increase of 230% compared to the same time period in 2016. The majority of cases were reported in Piedmont, Lazio, Lombardyand Tuscany. Most of the cases are aged between 15 and 39 years.

Additionally, since February 2017 in Pescara, authorities report 75 cases in mainly unvaccinated young adults. Of the 75 cases, 25 are hospitalised.

Romania: Between 1 January 2016 and 10 March 2017, Romania reported 3 446 cases of measles, including 17 deaths. Cases are either laboratory-confirmed or have an epidemiological link to a laboratory-confirmed case. Infants and young children are the mostaffected population. Thirty-seven of the 42 districts report cases, Caras Severin (West part of the country, at the border with Serbia) being the most affected district with 728 cases. Vaccination activities are ongoing in order to cover communities withsuboptimal vaccination coverage.

Spain: An outbreak started in the first week of January due to an imported measles case from China. As of 10 March, Barcelona and its metropolitan area reported 35 confirmed cases of measles. The cases are mostly adults, who are either incompletely vaccinatedor not vaccinated at all. Two of the cases are children. Six cases are hospitalised.

Sweden: In Stockholm three new cases related to each other were reported in the previous week. This brings the number of cases to ten, three adults and seven children.

ECDC Assessment

The progress towards elimination of measles in the European Region of WHO is assessed by The European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC). Member States of the WHO European Region are making steady progress towards the elimination of measles. At the fifth meeting of the RVC for Measles and Rubella in October 2016, of 53 countries in the WHO European Region, 24 (15 of which are in EU/EEA) were declared to have reached the elimination goal for measles, and an additional 13 countries (nine in EU/EEA) were concluded to have interrupted endemic transmission for less than 36 months, meaning they are on their way to achieving the elimination goal. However, six EU/EEA countries were judged to still have endemic transmission of measles: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania.

Source: WHO - Europe


ECDC has prepared a Rapid Risk Assessment published on 6 March 2017. ECDC monitors measles transmission and outbreaks in the EU/EEA on weekly basis through enhanced surveillance and epidemic intelligence activities.