Measles Cases Strike Malta

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Sarah Peddie

The country of Malta has experienced a huge rise in measles cases this year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

There has been 30 measles cases recorded by the first week in August in 2019. This means that the country has seen a 500% increase since last year. In 2018, there were only five cases reported throughout the whole year.

Signs of the disease spreading fast were clear back in April when 15 cases had been reported to Malta’s health authorities. 13 out of the 15 cases were adults between the ages of 23 and 45 years old, the rest being children. 

All the incidence statistics have risen dramatically since last year due to the sharp increase of cases.

The annual rate for measles per one million inhabitants has leaped to 81.5 in August compared to it just being 11.7 for the whole of 2018.

The incidence rate is now the fifth highest amongst EU member countries and the 14th highest across Europe. 

Measles and rubella were eradicated in Malta thanks to the strength of a vaccination programme that targeted all babies born in the country.

However, due to a recent increase in cases worldwide, it is not immune anymore.

The recent spike of measles outbreaks is due to campaigns that spread fear of the safety of the vaccinations, lack of knowledge on vaccinations and lack of vaccine coverage in many parts of the world. 

The WHO said that the first six months of 2019 has been the highest amount of reported measles cases since 2006.

Symptoms

Measles symptoms can often be confused with the common cold. Some of the symptoms include sore red eyes and a rash that starts from the head and works its way down the body.

Measles is highly contagious and is transmitted through the air. 

The MMR vaccine is extremely important in preventing the virus from spreading. The first vaccination gives around 93% of immunisation. 

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