Update on vaccine-preventable diseases in the European Region: measures to prevent spread of measles and poliovirus continue


For the first 9 months of 2013, 26 321 measles cases were reported in 37 countries of the WHO European Region. Data released in the latest “WHO EpiBrief” indicate that 35% of these cases were among adults aged 20 and older and over 6000 cases required hospitalization. A 17-year-old girl in the Netherlands died on 26 October 2013 from measles-related complications.

Outbreaks reported so far this year indicate that the Region is not on track to achieve the 2015 target date for the elimination of measles and rubella. WHO/Europe therefore recently developed and activated a “Package for Accelerated Action” that includes key actions to be taken and milestones to be achieved if the 2015 goal is to be reached.  

Poliovirus in Israel

Following the detection of wild poliovirus 1 (WPV1) in Israel in sewage samples of February 2013, epidemiological and environmental surveillance for poliovirus and a nationwide immunization campaign targeting children up to 10 years of age with live attenuated oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) continue.

Turkey takes action to prevent polio importation

As part of the cross-regional response to the outbreak of poliomyelitis in the Syrian Arab Republic, public health authorities in Turkey are scaling up surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis and implementing a vaccination campaign with two rounds of oral poliovirus vaccine. All children less than five years of age in selected provinces of the south-eastern part of the country irrespective of their vaccination status are targeted for immunization and under-vaccinated children will be administered vaccines to complete their vaccination schedule. Syrian citizens under temporary protection in Turkey will also be included in the supplementary immunization activities.

WHO EpiBrief

The latest “WHO EpiBrief” provides a detailed overview of measles and rubella in the WHO European Region and reports on the measures taken by Israel and Turkey to prevent the spread of wild poliovirus and the occurrence of clinical cases. It also includes a description of rotavirus surveillance activities undertaken in six countries of the Region, with a focus on 2012 data.