Euro 2012

Will measles hit EURO 2012?

02.04.2012 | By Serhiy Petukhov, Olesya Ostafieva Weekly.ua

At the end of February, the World Health Organization quite strongly advised fans from Europe going to Ukraine for EURO 2012 to get vaccinations against measles. If you are not vaccinated, you run the risk of being infected and may spread measles to others, reads the memo of the WHO to the fans of EURO 2012

Super infection

Measles is not a deadly but extremely unpleasant as it is characterized by coughing, high temperatures and an ugly red rash on the entire body. Particularly alarming is its top index of contagiousness: 100% of people without immunity that share a living space with an infected person, will catch the disease. It means that if a person with measles coughs near another person, this person will definitely get infected especially if he or she never had measles in the past.

PH: shutterstock


In nature, everything is rational. A human body develops immunity for such highly infectious diseases as measles once and for good. After a body meets the virus, recovers from measles or receives the virus in the form of a vaccine, the organism develops immunity to it for the rest of its life and the person will never get measles again. For this reason it is easy for doctors to cope with measles they just need to vaccinate everybody and there will be no epidemic. So, why do people continue to get infected with measles even in countries with a high level of healthcare? Only because there are ignorant, or conversely, too highly educated parents who do not have their children vaccinated. Ignorant people continuously arrive to developed countries. Within their cultural traditions, they have many children, but give them no vaccinations, because in their homelands not only measles, but even leprosy is a fact of everyday life. Some excessively smart people are convinced that vaccination is an invention of pharmaceutical corporations that want to increase their profits. When the number of ignorant and overly smart citizens in the country exceeds a critical level, an epidemic breaks out of a disease that seems to have been long overcome.

Measles carriers

This is what happened last summer in Europe, where there was an outbreak of measles. It was particularly high in Macedonia (at the end of 2011 353 measles cases per 1 mn of the population), France (243.6), Romania (131.2), Italy (83.4), Switzerland (78.5), Belgium (49.3) and Spain (40.2). For comparison, the indicator for Ukraine was 3.8. European mass media did not cover much this issue and we know much less than we should about the scale of the European measles epidemic, since we are expecting guests from there for EURO 2012. The peak of the epidemic has passed, but the situation remains strained. European infection specialists plan to overcome measles no earlier than 2015. At least this is what is written in the plan of anti-epidemic actions approved by the European Commission. So, it would be quite scandalous to keep us in the dark for much longer. 100 days prior to the start of EURO 2012, the Swiss headquarters of the WHO persistently recommended travelers from Europe to vaccinate against measles before going to Ukraine in order to, first, not pass on the disease to Ukrainians and, secondly and most importantly, in order to not stun Ukrainians that respect EU by their mass hospitalization in Ukrainian infectious hospitals.

Ferret Day

Are European fans heeding the advice of doctors? It is unlikely. If we had the epidemic, not the Europeans, they would have become scared and got the vaccinations. Otherwise, nobody will ask them for a vaccination certificate at the border. In fact, Borys Kolesnikov promises to reduce the duration of passport control to 20 seconds per fan.

Meanwhile, the EU authorities decided to introduce in Europe an EU immunization passport after the story of measles. During an online plebiscite last year, 85% of EU citizens voted in favor of the introduction of such passports. In the beginning, they will be introduced for children crossing the state borders inside the EU. The European Commission used as a sample for this document the so-called pet passport. Dogs, cats and for some reason ferrets are not let through the state borders in EU without such a passport. Immunization passports in Europe have not been introduced yet.

However, there will be no measles epidemic in Ukraine for as long as the vast majority of our children get vaccinated against it in the due time. Moreover, the progressive moms from Kyiv, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv, who know better what to vaccinate their children against, are best off not risking their children from catching the disease and taking them to their parents homes outside the EURO 2012 host cities from the end of May to the start of July. There will be no measles there for sure.

COMMENTARY

Mykhailo Radutskiy

President of Boris Clinic

Vaccination against measles is done at an early age and I have not heard that people are specially vaccinated before traveling to some other country. During EURO 2012, the number of infected people could increase, because many Europeans will come to Ukraine and at the moment there is an increased level of measles cases in Europe. I do not see any reasons for panic, however. Ukraine does not have to specifically prepare for measles and by purchasing super expensive medications in large shipments. Measles are treated with a simple set of medications that is available in Ukraine.

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