Outbreak of measles in Ukraine and potential for spread in the EU, 2012

Risk assessment

A rapid risk assement on the risk of measles for visitors to Ukraine, particularly during the UEFA European Football Championship, EURO 2012, and the potential spread of infection within the EU.

Executive summary

There is an ongoing measles outbreak in the Ukraine, currently concentrated in the western part of the country bordering on Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. In 2012 to date, over 5 000 cases have been reported and there is a risk that the actual numbers are considerably higher. The epidemic is expected to accelerate and spread geographically during the peak transmission season for measles from February to June.

The main finding of the ECDC risk assessment is that unvaccinated or non-immune persons visiting Ukraine are at risk of contracting measles. The increased concentration and movement of people during mass gathering events such as the UEFA European Football Championship (EURO 2012) will further increase the risk of transmission to both visitors and local residents.

It is important that all visitors who have not already been fully vaccinated or have not previously had measles are vaccinated if they intend to visit the Ukraine. The vaccine should be administered according to their national recommendations prior to travel to the Ukraine. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and effective and generally has very few side effects. Due to the overall low vaccine coverage in Ukraine, the risk of outbreaks of other vaccine preventable diseases, including rubella, mumps and diphtheria, and their subsequent spread to the EU is also considered elevated. Travellers should review their vaccination status accordingly. WHO Europe’s travel advice for EURO 2012 is to meet a doctor 4-6 weeks prior to travelling.

The risk of contracting measles or other vaccine preventable diseases is low for those who are fully vaccinated or immune due to past infection.

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20120314_RA_Measles_Ukraine.pdf - EN - [PDF-2.42 MB]