European monthly measles monitoring, March 2012

Surveillance report
Publication series: Bi-annual measles and rubella monitoring report

ECDC monitors measles transmission in the EU and EEA/EFTA countries and produces monthly epidemiological updates. The European Monthly Measles Monitoring (EMMO) report has two sections. The surveillance section reports officially validated national figures on measles reported by countries to The European Surveillance System (TESSy). The Epidemic Intelligence section reports information from multiple sources including national websites, the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS), TESSy, validated media reports, and personal communication from national authorities. The period covered in the Epidemic Intelligence section will differ between countries, and the number of cases reported should be treated as preliminary data.
Previous issues of EMMO

Executive summary

The latest European monthly measles monitoring shows that in January 2012, 584 cases of measles were reported by the 29 contributing EU and EEA countries. This number is considerably lower than for the same month in 2011 (2 289 cases) and 2010 (2 673 cases).

Romania is the only European country exceeding one case per 100 000 population in the reporting period and contributed 63% (367) of all cases. Fifteen countries reported zero cases in January, and as reported in the previous EMMO, only two countries, Iceland and Cyprus, remained measles-free in 2011.

Measles is spreading in the neighbouring Ukraine and transmission is expected to continue during the mass-gathering event of the UEFA European Football Championship in June 2012 unless effective control measures are implemented. Currently the outbreak is concentrated in the western parts of Ukraine which borders on Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. The epidemic is expected to accelerate and spread geographically during the measles peak transmission season from February to June. Since the country will host the European Football Championship together with Poland in June 2012, visitors are encouraged to make sure they are vaccinated against measles. For further information, please refer to ECDC’s rapid risk assessment: Outbreak of measles in Ukraine and potential for spread in the EU, 2012.

Measles is a highly infectious and potentially fatal disease which can be prevented by a safe and effective vaccine. When given in two doses, at least 98% of vaccine recipients develop life-long protective immunity against the disease. As the measles virus only infects humans, the disease could be eradicated. The countries in the European Region of the World Health Organization, which includes all EU and EEA/EFTA countries, have committed to eliminate measles transmission by 2015. Elimination of measles requires sustained vaccination coverage above 95% with two doses of a measles-containing vaccine.