Imported measles spreads in rare outbreak

A person returning from a trip abroad has set off a minor measles outbreak in Uppsala, with cases now turning up in Stockholm, health officials warned on Wednesday.

Imported measles spreads in rare outbreak

The Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet, SMI) has warned the public that ten measles cases in Uppsala and Stockholm are believed to be linked to the same source of contagion, a patient returning from abroad.

“The link is likely, but we haven’t confirmed it through laboratory tests yet,” Katarina Widgren at SMI told The Local.

The most recent case was reported just days ago and as the measles is a highly contagious airborne disease, which can in the worst case lead to pneumonia or meningitis, Swedes are required by law to report falling ill to their doctor.

“If you fear you might have the symptoms of measles, please make sure you don’t go sit in a waiting room at the hospital or at your general practice,” Widgren said.

“Call Vårdguiden or get in touch with your doctor immediately so you don’t accidentally infect the entire waiting room.”

SEE ALSO: The Vårdguiden website in English

Widgren advised people who did not take part in Sweden’s vaccination campaign as children to check with their parents if they ever got the jab in their country of origin.

SEE ALSO: The Vårdguiden website’s other languages including Polish, Arabic, Mandarin, and French

Since 1982, children in Sweden are offered vaccinations against the disease, which according to the state-run health website Vå means measles cases are extremely rare in Sweden.

Sweden’s vaccination coverage is estimated at least 95 percent of the population. To put the figure in perspective, Denmark, which alongside the UK and France saw measles outbreaks in 2011, has a national vaccination coverage estimated at about 85-88 percent.

Last year, the European epidemiologists warned that the disease had hit new heights within the EU. More than 30,000 people came down with the illness, the Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported at the end of 2012.

France, Italy, Romania, Spain and Germany accounted for the majority of cases, reported EuroNews.

”In Sweden, we’re only talking about ten linked cases, but that’s a lot more than we’ve seen for many, many years,” Widgren told The Local.

Ann Törnkvist

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