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Measles on the rise in Brussels

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69 measles infections were recorded in Brussels during the first months of 2019, according to figures from the Join Community Commission (GGC).

This is a significant rise in the number of cases in 2018, which saw only one case reported during the same timeframe. In the entire year of 2018, there were fewer cases than in February 2019. This rise is not only the case in Brussels, but in most large cities in Belgium, and Europe.

Besides young unvaccinated children, adults between the ages of 25 and 45 are the biggest group at risk. The GGC announced that most of the patients were adults who had recently visited countries where the disease is spreading quickly, like France, Ukraine and Romania.

“Young adults have not always been vaccinated correctly,” said Dirk Devroey (VUB) to Bruzz. “The vaccine should be administered twice. Once at a very young age, and a second time in the teenage years. People older than 45 often have already had the disease, and are therefore immune,” he added.

Devroey does not see any reason to panic, but it is important to take measures. “The most important thing is to vaccinate babies. Apart from that, young adults should check with their doctor if they have been properly vaccinated,” he said. When in doubt, it is not harmful to have the vaccine again.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases and can be deadly. The symptoms are fever, coughing, a runny nose, red rashes on the skin and a decreased appetite. There is also a risk of meningitis, which can lead to permanent disability or death. Four in a thousand people who get infected end up in the hospital, one in a thousand dies.

The GGC is working on a campaign to stress the importance of vaccinations.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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