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NEWS 10 Mar 17

Hungary Fears Measles Epidemic Coming From Romania

After a hospital in Hungary was quarantined on Thursday and a number of measles case were reported, doctors fear an epidemic might have spread from over the border in Romania.

Ana Maria Luca

The measles outbreak in Romania came as many parents failed or refused to vaccinate their children. Photo: Carlos Reusser Monsalvez/Flicker

Hungarian health authorities have quarantined a hospital in Mako, southeast Hungary, after declaring a measles epidemic, and warned on Thursday that the virus might have come from over the border in Romania, where there has been an outbreak in recent months.

Mako hospital manager Kallai Arpad said that after 12 members of the staff contracted the disease, the hospital had been closed.

"The virus was brought into the hospital by someone. We belive it can only be from Romania, since the incubation period is 10 days, and we had a Romanian patient in ER,” Kallai said.

A total of 29 cases have been reported in Mako, Szeged and Debrecen, affecting both medical personnel and ordinary people, according to the news portal delmagyar.hu.  

Romania reported a measles outbreak in 2016, with 3,000 case over the year and another 1,000 in the past two months.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, ECDC, on Wednesday warned that the epidemic could spread to other European countries, after Belgian hospitals also reported outbreaks after treating Romanian patients.

“Considering the size and geographical spread of the ongoing measles outbreak in Romania, the likelihood of the export of measles cases is high,” the ECDC said.

Romania's National Institute of Public Health reported 3,071 cases of measles, including 16 deaths, from September 2016 to mid-February 2017. The previous year, in 2015, Romania reported only seven measles cases.

The outbreak is blamed in part on parents failing or refusing to vaccinate their children.

The highest number of cases was reported in southwest Romania, in the Caras-Severin, Arad, and Timis counties, on the border with Serbia and Hungary, where more than 1,900 cases were reported. Most cases have been registered in poor rural communities.

Romania has lowered the age for the first vaccine dose from the usual 12 months to nine months and has recommended that all children up to nine years of age are vaccinated to curb the outbreak.

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