The World Health Organization reported a record-high number of Measles cases in Europe this year so far. In the first six months of 2018 alone, there have been a record-shattering 41,000 reported cases of children and adults coming down with the preventable, communicable disease, outpacing the 23,927 total annual cases for the disease in 2017, which was the highest rate of measles over the past decade. At least 37 people have died from the disease, which is prevented by regular vaccinations, so far.
France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine have had over 1,000 infections and Ukraine has had over 23,000 people affected by the disease. In these countries, low immunization rates are clearly to blame, according to the WHO.
The outbreak increase in the European Union does mirror what’s happening in the United States, although the numbers are far more extreme. In 2018 so far in the United States, the Center for Disease Control has reported over 100 cases of measles in over 20 states. In 2017, there were 118 cases of measles reported total — meaning that there will be at least double the number of outbreaks this year. Much like in Europe, the majority of people in the States who have come down with the disease were unvaccinated, and the disease spreads the easiest in communities with low immunization numbers.
Although the outbreak is contained in Europe for the moment, it is easily spread by travel. If someone with the disease travels to another country, they could be highly contagious. The virus can live for up to two hours in a space where someone infected with the disease has coughed or sneezed. If not vaccinated, even if just one person has the disease, the CDC reports that 90 percent of people who are near the diseased person who is also unvaccinated will also get sick.