Surge reported in measles cases across Europe

Recently, the World Health Organization, or WHO, issued a press release stating, "Over 500 measles cases were reported for January 2017 in the WHO European Region."

The vast majority of these—474 cases—have been traced back to seven countries—France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine.

But the problem seems particularly serious in Romania and Italy.

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UNDATED: In this handout from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a thin-section transmission electron micrograph (TEM) reveales the ultrastructural appearance of a single virus particle, or 'virion', of measles virus. in this undated image. Measles outbreaks have been reported throughout the U.S., with the latest reported February 5, 2015 at a daycare in suburban Chicago where as many as five children under the age of one have been infected. (Photo by CDC via Getty Images)
MILL VALLEY, CA - JANUARY 26: In this photo illustration, vials of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine are displayed on a counter at a Walgreens Pharmacy on January 26, 2015 in Mill Valley, California. An outbreak of measles in California has grown to 68 cases with 48 of the cases being linked to people who had visited Disneyland. Nine additional cases have been reported in five states and Mexico. (Photo by Illustration Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 28: Miami Children's Hospital pediatrician Dr. Amanda Porro, M.D prepares to administer a measles vaccination to a child at the Miami Children's Hospital on January 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. A recent outbreak of measles has some doctors encouraging vaccination as the best way to prevent measles and its spread. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
1972: In this handout from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a histopathology of measles pneumonia is seen in this microscope image from 1972. Measles outbreaks have been reported throughout the U.S., with the latest reported February 5, 2015 at a daycare in suburban Chicago where as many as five children under the age of one have been infected. (Photo by CDC via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 28: In this photo illustration, a bottle containing a measles vaccine is seen at the Miami Children's Hospital on January 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. A recent outbreak of measles has some doctors encouraging vaccination as the best way to prevent measles and its spread. (Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A girl receives anti-measles vaccination drops at a health centre in BASECO compound in Tondo, Manila September 3, 2014. Philippine President Benigno Aquino said on September 1, 2014 between 11 to 13 million people in the country are at risk from measles, polio and rubella (German measles), and asked the public to cooperate in eradicating the preventable diseases, during Monday's launch of a mass national vaccination campaign against measles and polio, reported local media. REUTERS/Erik De Castro (PHILIPPINES - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY)
A measles vaccine is seen at Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles, California February 5, 2015. Lawmakers in several U.S. states are backing proposals to make it harder for parents to opt out of school vaccinations based on personal beliefs, as health officials fight a growing measles outbreak that has sickened more than 100 people in more than a dozen states. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH POLITICS)
A girl looks on as a health officer injects her with measles vaccine at a school in Yemen's central province of Marib January 12, 2016. REUTERS/Ali Owidha
ACEH, INDONESIA - NOVEMBER 14: Students receive immunizations against TD (Tetanus Toxoid) and DT (Diphtheria Tetanus) during the implementation of the School Children Immunization Month in Lhokseumawe, on November 14, 2016 in Aceh, Indonesia. TD immunization shots (Tetanus Toxoid) and DT (diphtheria tetanus) to prevent measles, diphtheria and tetanus, which aims to improve the health of students in Indonesia. PHOTOGRAPH BY Fachrul Reza / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Fachrul Reza / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
AMAZON, MANAUS, AMAZONAS STATE, BRAZIL - 2016/03/16: Measles, a highly contagious infection caused by the measles virus is an airborne disease which spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of those infected - red rash which usually starts on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body is the typical symptom. Fundacao de Medicina Tropical do Amazonas ( Amazon Tropical Medicine Foundation ), Manaus city, Brazil. (Photo by Ricardo Funari/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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The release states that "Romania has reported over 3,400 cases and 17 deaths since January 2016 (as of 10 March 2017). The majority of cases are concentrated in areas where immunization coverage is especially low."

Meanwhile, Italy had 238 reported measles cases in January 2017, and based on preliminary information, the number is expected to repeat or exceed in February; in comparison, the country recorded about 850 total cases of the disease in all of 2016.

Experts recommend that people get vaccinated to prevent such outbreaks. Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, notes, "Outbreaks will continue in Europe, as elsewhere, until every country reaches the level of immunization needed to fully protect their populations."

This threshold has been set at 95 percent or above.

The region's 53 member states have agreed to join together to fight the disease as part of the European Vaccine Action Plan 2015-2020.

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