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news 17 Oct 17

Spike in Measles Cases Causes Concern in Kosovo

Despite the officially high rate of vaccination in Kosovo, Pristina's main hospital is an epidemic of measles cases for the first time since the war ended in 1999, also causing victims.

Die Morina
University Clinical Center of Kosovo | Photo: Atdhe Mulla

Two patients died within a week in the University Clinical Center of Kosovo as the number of patients affected with measles has risen sharply lately, marking the first year that Kosovo has seen cases spike since the war in Kosovo ended in 1999.

Fatmir Bqiri, 37 years old from municipality of Lipjan died on Monday after 20 days being treated in infections clinic.

“The 37 year old victim two months ago was diagnosed with tuberculosis, while more than two weeks ago was diagnosed with measles and was treating in infectious clinic” the spokesperson of UCCK, Shpend Fazliu told BIRN.

“We have 73 cases with measles that are being treated in our clinic but the number is changing every day,” the director of infections at the clinic, Hamdi Ramadani, told BIRN on Monday.

Ramadani said that since June, when the first outbreak of measles was reported in Kosovo, over 140 patients had received treatment at the infections centre of the University Clinical Center, CUCCK. On Friday, they received around 10 new cases, he added.

Ramadani said the situation was serious but under control and there was no need to panic. “We have our staff prepared," Ramadani told BIRN.

"Since the war ended, there has never been a problem with the measles – only this year," Ramadani recalled.

Last week, a 15-month-old baby died in the clinic, but Ramadani said the child “was ill even earlier and also was not vaccinated”.

National Institute of Public Health spokesperson Era Pireva told BIRN on Monday that the level of vaccination with MMR vaccine was 93-94 per cent.

The Kosovo Center for Family Medicine, KCFM, in Pristina, said about 86 per cent of children from capital had been vaccinated.

The director of KCFM in Pristina, Sadete Hadri, also confirmed that since the cases of measles were reported, the number of people getting the vaccine had increased.

However, given the high number of cases needing help with measles in the hospital, Ramadani questions the reliability of such figures.

“Apart from two or three cases, each of the patients who asked for help in our clinic had not been vaccinated,” Ramadani noted.

During Immunization Week in April in Pristina, which was held to promote the use of vaccines, the Ministry of Health claimed a vaccination rate in Kosovo of 95 per cent.

It made Kosovo one of the most successful countries in the world with regard to vaccination of children, the ministry said.


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