Regional update: ongoing measles and rubella outbreaks and environmental detection of wild poliovirus

Measles and rubella

For the first half of 2013, 20 601 measles cases were reported in 34 countries of the WHO European Region and 4904 rubella cases were reported in 19 countries (including zero reporting). During this period, 6 measles-related deaths were recorded.

Polio

The environmental surveillance system for poliovirus in Israel continues to detect the presence of wild poliovirus 1 (WPV1) in sewage samples, mostly in the southern part of the country. As yet, no cases of polio have been detected, most likely because the country has achieved high immunization coverage with inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV). This vaccine provides personal protection from the disease but does not prevent further transmission of the virus.

WHO EpiBrief

The latest “WHO EpiBrief” provides more information on the epidemiological situation for measles, rubella and polio in the first half of 2013. It also describes measures being taken by the affected countries to control measles and rubella outbreaks, prevent cases of poliomyelitis and control the environmental spread of the poliovirus.

Significance for Regional immunization goals

The epidemiological situation for measles and rubella indicates that accelerated action is needed to reach the 2015 regional elimination goal for these two diseases. The detection of wild poliovirus 1 in the environment in Israel also highlights the importance of surveillance activities for maintaining the Region’s polio-free status.