Hopes of eradicating measles from Europe by 2010 have been cast into ‘serious doubt’ because of poor vaccination rates, say researchers.
Latest study findings reveal more than 12,000 recorded cases of measles in Europe in 2006-2007, with the majority of cases coming from just five countries.
National surveillance of 32 countries found that Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Romania and the UK were responsible for 85% of infections, most of which were in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children.
According to recommendations from the World Health Organization, a minimum of 95% vaccination coverage from two doses is necessary for measles elimination.
Yet following safety fears over the MMR jab, UK coverage fell below 85% between 2002 and 2005. Germany, Switzerland and Italy have also been dogged by poor vaccination uptake.
The study authors, led by Dr Mark Muscat from the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark, said online in the Lancet: ‘The suboptimum vaccination coverage raises serious doubts that the goal of elimination by 2010 can be attained.
‘Achievement and maintenance of optimum vaccination coverage, and improved surveillance, are the cornerstones of the measles elimination plan for Europe,’ they added.