Disease

Measles in Europe: Romania and Italy hit hardest

In a follow-up on the measles outbreaks among several countries in Europe, European health officials say outbreaks continue to occur in EU/EEA countries, and there is the risk of spread and sustained transmission in areas with susceptible populations.

The countries hardest hit are Romania and Italy. Poor vaccination coverage is huge problem.

Romania – Between 1 January 2016 and 31 March 2017, Romania reported 4,025 cases of measles, including 18 deaths. Infants and young children are the most affected population. Some of the previous and ongoing measles outbreaks in other EU countries have been epidemiologically linked to the current outbreak in Romania.

Italy – Since the beginning of 2017 and as of 4 April 2017, Italy reported 1,333 cases of measles, with 131 cases among healthcare workers. The cases are reported from 19 of the 21 regions in Italy. A majority of the cases (93%) are from Piedmont, Lazio, Lombardy, Tuscany, Abruzzi and Sicily. Most of the cases are above 15 years and 88% of the cases were not vaccinated.

Elephantiasis outbreak in Uganda

Since 2015, health officials in Uganda have received reports of increasing numbers of people suffering from elephantiasis, a debilitating disease characterized by severe swelling in the limbs.

The disease is typically caused by infection with parasitic worms, transmitted through certain mosquito species. But an investigation by the country’s Ministry of Health has revealed a new root cause: volcanic soil.

The region’s soil comes from volcanic rocks formed more than 2.5 million years ago, and irritant minerals in remaining volcanic soil can cause itching, pain and eventual swelling and scarring after prolonged exposure.

Officials believe the current epidemic has been happening silently for more than 30 years.

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