The number of measles cases appears to be on the rise in several countries in Europe after the World Health Organization noted an increase in number of confirmed cases for 2017 compared to the previous year, something that a new report blamed on the anti-vaxxer movement.
Based on a press release from the WHO, measles is making a comeback along the European Region as the international health agency noted a four-fold surge in the number of confirmed cases in the past year alone.
In the report, the international agency said that there was a total of 21,315 confirmed cases of measles that included 35 fatalities in 2017 whereas they recorded a historic low of only 5,273 cases in 2016. The data, which was released ahead of a health ministerial meeting on immunization in Montenegro on February 20, revealed that one out of four European countries see an outbreak of the disease.
According to Popular Science, the return of the highly contagious infection appeared to be caused by the emergence of anti-vaccine movements, a.k.a. the anti-vaxxers, which reportedly flourished during the 1990’s.
As far as anti-vaxxers are concerned, vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella allegedly have a side-effect that causes autism in children and have used influential people like celebrities and community leaders to promote the idea.
— Prof Peter Hotez MD PhD (@PeterHotez) February 19, 2018
However, this wasn’t entirely true as PopSci notes that the people behind the movement sow their belief in people who are not willing to take risks.
“Plenty of people who aren’t outright against vaccination still claim exemptions, because they don’t want to take what they perceive as a risk with their child’s health. But in reality, the real risk lies in not vaccinating,” the outlet explained.
Aside from Europe, several areas in the United States also saw the return of measles outbreaks. In Minnesota, immigrants have a higher tendency to believe in the anti-vaxxer movement which caused the state’s largest outbreak in three decades, based on a report from Vox.
Meanwhile, a small outbreak in Texas recorded in 2017 was also blamed to the movement as the state is one of few where vaccinations are not required by the law. According to the New York Daily, parents can decide not to avail of the health service if it goes against their “conscientious” beliefs.
Despite Europe seemingly going full circle with the highly infectious respiratory disease, the World Health Organization vows to proceed with the program to prevent more deaths and outbreaks.
“Elimination of both measles and rubella is a priority goal that all European countries have firmly committed to, and a cornerstone for achieving the health-related Sustainable Development Goals,” WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab declared.
“This short-term setback cannot deter us from our commitment to be the generation that frees our children from these diseases once and for all.”