By Daily Mail Reporter
Published: 22:02 GMT, 7 February 2019 | Updated: 09:01 GMT, 8 February 2019
The number of people contracting measles in 2018 across Europe was the highest number for a decade, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
While more children in Europe are being vaccinated against measles than ever before, progress has been 'uneven' between countries and individual countries have some patches where vaccine take-up is low, it said.
Some 82,596 people in 47 of 53 countries contracted measles, the highest number this decade and three times the figure in 2017.
While record numbers are being vaccinated in Europe, progress in closing gaps 'will be insufficient to stop measles circulation', the WHO warned [File photo]
It is also 15 times a record low recorded in 2016.
A total of 72 children and adults died in 2018 following infection, the WHO said.
In England and Wales, Public Health England (PHE) data shows there were 913 cases of measles between January and October 2018 – the most recent data available.
Two adults died from measles in 2017 in the UK.
One was an immunosuppressed man who had caught measles abroad three years earlier, while the other was a woman who acquired her infection in the UK.
No UK deaths were reported in 2018.
Ukraine reported the highest number of measles cases last year across Europe, while more than 90 per cent of cases were in 10 countries, including France, Italy and Greece.
Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, said: 'The picture for 2018 makes it clear that the current pace of progress in raising immunisation rates will be insufficient to stop measles circulation.
'While data indicate exceptionally high immunisation coverage at regional level, they also reflect a record number affected and killed by the disease.
The World Health Organisation said 82,596 contracted the disease – three times the total for 2017 and 15 times 2016's record low [File photo]
Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that spreads easily from an injected person by coughing, sneezing or even just breathing.
Symptoms develop between six and 19 days after infection, and include a runny nose, cough, sore eyes, a fever and a rash.
The rash appears as red and blotchy marks on the hairline that travel down over several days, turning brown and eventually fading.
Some children complain of disliking bright lights or develop white spots with red backgrounds on their tongue.
In one in 15 cases, measles can cause life-threatening complications including pneumonia, convulsions and encephalitis.
Dr Ava Easton, chief executive of the Encephalitis Society told MailOnline: 'Measles can be very serious.
'[It] can cause encephalitis which is inflammation of the brain.
'Encephalitis can result in death or disability.'
Treatment focuses on staying hydrated, resting and taking painkillers, if necessary.
Measles can be prevented by receiving two vaccinations, the first at 13 months old and the second at three years and four months to five years old.
Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital