Four European countries lose measles-free status, says WHO 3 weeks ago

Four European countries lose measles-free status, says WHO

"We are backsliding, we are on the wrong track."

Four European countries have lost their measles-free status, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Albania, Greece, the Czech Republic, and the UK are no longer considered to have eradicated measles as the disease has returned to the nations.

Measles is a vaccine preventable illness that can cause coughing, fever, and rashes. It can also be fatal in cases.

BBC News reports that WHO's Kate O'Brien said that the countries who have lost their eradication status each have "extremely high" vaccination coverage.

Countries are declared to be measles-free when there is no endemic transmission over a 12 month period.

"We are backsliding, we are on the wrong track," said O'Brien.

"This is the alarm bell that is ringing around the world: being able to achieve high national coverage is not enough, it has to be achieved in every community, and every family for every child.

"We have a worrying trend that all regions are experiencing an increase in measles except for the region of the Americas, which has seen a small decline."

O'Brien asked community leaders to combat misinformation and scaremongers and to instead provide "accurate, valid, scientifically credible information."

She also said that WHO sees widely circulated myths about vaccines to be a "threat" to public safety.

Almost 365,000 cases of measles have been reported globally this year, with an estimated 109,000 deaths reported in 2017.

Measles is most common among children aged between one and four years old, although anyone who has not been vaccinated against measles can catch it.