Measles incidence drops in Europe, but transmission continues

Measles continues to spread in the European Region, threatening Member States’ achievement of their goal to eliminate the disease from the Region by the end of 2015.  However, with about 50% fewer cases reported to date for 2014 compared to the previous year, incidence in the Region appears to have dropped to the lowest level since 2009. 

The largest outbreaks in 2014 were reported by the Russian Federation with 3247 cases and Georgia with 3190 cases. Another large-scale outbreak occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina with 2204 cases reported so far. Based on population size, Georgia had the highest incidence of reported measles cases (750 per million inhabitants) followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina (592 per million inhabitants).

Continuing transmission in the Region has been evidenced so far this year with outbreaks being reported currently in Germany and Kyrgyzstan.

Assessing progress

The European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) met in November 2014 to assess progress towards the target of eliminating both measles and rubella. The RVC determined that nearly half of the Region’s Member States have demonstrated interruption of endemic transmission of either or both diseases. The RVC’s upcoming report will provide a detailed assessment of the status of elimination in each Member State and recommend steps to be taken by those falling behind to also reach this goal. 

An overview and analysis of epidemiological data on measles and rubella in the WHO European Region is posted regularly in the WHO EpiBrief and WHO EpiData. End-of-year data for 2014 is forthcoming.

Measles cases in the WHO European Region 1993-2014. Cases dropped 98% between 1993-2007