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News 27 Dec 17

Measles Epidemic in Serbia Claims First Fatality

A 30-year-old Belgrade man is the first person in Serbia to die from complications caused by measles, highlighting a crisis blamed on the relatively low number of vaccinations.

Filip Rudic
Illustration. Photo: Pixabay

Serbian Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar confirmed on Wednesday that an unvaccinated man from Belgrade had died from measles, which has spread across Serbia since an outbreak was first reported in November.

“This problem can’t be solved until we are all vaccinated," Loncar told the press, calling on parents to protect their children’s health.

The patient who passed away was admitted to the Clinical Centre of Serbia on December 22. He had advanced measles and pneumonia, a common complication of measles.

According to a report from the Institute for Public Health, published Monday, there have been 390 cases of measles in Serbia since October.

Measles are believed to have spread from Kosovo, and Serbia has registered 264 infected persons in the northern regions of Kosovo with a mostly Serbian population.

Serbia's Institute for Public Health says that 91 percent of those infected have not been vaccinated, or incompletely vaccinated, or their vaccination status in unknown.

Most of those infected are either under five years old or are over 30, but the Institute did not provide exact numbers.

In recent years, Serbia has seen a growing resistance to vaccination, mainly due to charlatans spreading claims that the MMR vaccine, which guards against measles, mumps and rubella, is related to autism in children.

A group of doctors and parents from several Serbian cities has said they will file criminal charges against public figures who encourage parents not to vaccinate children.

The Health Ministry has been filing charges against parents who did not have their children vaccinated, which is against the law in Serbia.

Effective protection of the population requires vaccination of 95 per cent of children, but according to some estimates the number in Serbia is only around 50 per cent. In the Serbian capital, Belgrade, only 65.2 per cent have been vaccinated.

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