Measles and rubella outbreaks in Europe point to persistent gaps in immunity coverage

Measles cases were reported by 26 countries in the WHO European Region for the first quarter of 2013, and rubella cases were reported by 12 countries.  According to the latest "WHO EpiBrief", 30% of the total measles cases (1524 of 6266) and 99.8% of the total rubella cases (4558 of 4567) were reported by Member States of the European Union.

The "WHO EpiBrief" released today analyses surveillance data on measles and rubella reported by Member States in the period January–March 2013 and reports on measles outbreaks in selected countries.

The surveillance data by country are presented separately in "WHO EpiData" summary tables.

Immunity gaps

Suboptimal vaccination coverage over a period of time leads to the accumulation of susceptible individuals. In the United Kingdom, for example, school-age children emerged as a particularly susceptible group due to a general decline in measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination in the early 2000s. Outbreaks in several countries have also affected minority groups that are still undervaccinated.

Numerous measures have been implemented in the affected countries to limit the spread of these diseases, such as catch-up and communication campaigns.