Measles cases rising in Spain

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SPANISH paediatricians have advised bringing forward measles vaccinations due to the rise of the number of cases.

Almost 2,000 cases of measles were detected in Spain last year, compared to 173 in 2010.

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Therefore the Vaccination Advice Committee of the Spanish Paediatric Association have suggested bringing the MMR vaccine forward and giving the first dose to children at 12 months instead of 15 months.

This is because the cases are being detected in children between 12 and 15 months when children have an insufficient amount of antibodies to fight it.

The second dose is recommended at age two, instead of waiting to between three and four or sometimes six years old. In Europe, 30,000 cases of measles were detected in 2011, killing eight people.

In Spain, 2,000 were registered, but the true figure is believed to be closer to 3,000, with 2,000 in Sevilla alone, mainly due to the fact that there are a lot of gypsy families whose children are not vaccinated.

Most of the other cases were also in Andalucia, and in Madrid and Barcelona. Measles is one of the most contagious diseases known, infecting more than 10 million children per year and killing 120,000 people.

Experts claim the rise in the number of cases is due to the fact that vaccination levels have fallen to 85 per cent, when the ideal to prevent a disease from spreading is 95 per cent.

This, they say, is because parents have relaxed and stop taking their children to the doctor after the age of two, because many haven’t had measles and forget that it can be a killer. Other causes are a campaign in the UK which related the measles vaccine to autism and the fact that many parents don’t want to vaccinate their children because they believe illness is natural.

By Jennifer Leighfield

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