Measles outbreak puts millions of children at risk across Europe, heath agencies warn

Measles cases in Europe are continuing to rise, with this year’s numbers set to surpass the total for 2023, according to a warning from WHO and UNICEF released on Tuesday.

Recent data shows 56,634 measles cases and four deaths reported in the first three months of 2024 across 45 out of 53 countries in the WHO European Region. In comparison, 2023 saw 61,070 cases and 13 deaths reported by 41 countries.

Measles severely impacts children’s health, with young children being particularly susceptible to serious complications. The disease results in high hospitalization rates and long-term immune system damage, making children more prone to other infections.

Over half of the measles cases in the WHO European Region in 2023 required hospitalization, highlighting the significant strain on individuals, families, and healthcare systems.

Nearly 50% of the cases in 2023 involved children under five years old, a consequence of missed routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic and the slow recovery in vaccination rates in 2021 and 2022.

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