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Romania sees 200 new cases per week in measles outbreak

Staff Writer | June 9, 2018
An outbreak of measles has killed dozens of infants and children in Romania, with 200 new cases reported each week.
measles Romania
Europe   Some 13,700 people in Romania have contracted measles
Doctors say the surge in the disease is fueled by low rates of vaccination. Some celebrities have waged media campaigns warning of the perils of immunization, while superstitions such as keeping the vaccine-preventable disease at bay with cabbage juice or not cleaning the house have also exasperated doctors.

Some doctors complain they don't have sufficient stocks of vaccines.

Alexandru Rafila, chief of a laboratory at the Matei Bals National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Bucharest, told The Associated Press this week the highly contagious disease spread quicker because millions of Romanians work abroad, exposing themselves to different strains of the virus and then returning home.

He said the disease first appeared in a community of Roma in northwestern Romania in 2016. He said the strain of disease was alien to Romania but often found in Italy.

Some 13,700 people in Romania have contracted measles since the epidemic began in 2016, and 55 have died, of whom only one had been immunized, according to the National Center for the Supervision and Control of Transmissible Diseases.

The World Health Organization recommends a 95-percent level of vaccination; Romania has one of the lowest European rates — less than 84 percent.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said the number of measles cases across the continent tripled last year, with Romania, Ukraine and Italy the worst affected.