Measles is making its way across Europe at an alarming rate, shocking new figures reveal.
Cases of the highly contagious infection have tripled in Italy so far this year, while Romania has also recorded an outbreak.
France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and Ukraine, which are all deemed endemic, have also reported an increase in cases.
The World Health Organization warns that outbreaks are mainly in areas where immunisation coverage is low.
But it says that the potentially fatal bug can reach other parts of Europe where vaccinations are more common.
WHO regional director for Europe Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab said: ‘With steady progress towards elimination over the past 2 years, it is of particular concern that measles cases are climbing in Europe.
‘Today’s travel patterns put no person or country beyond the reach of the measles virus.
‘Outbreaks will continue in Europe, as elsewhere, until every country reaches the level of immunization needed to fully protect their populations.
‘I urge all endemic countries to take urgent measures to stop transmission of measles within their borders, and all countries that have already achieved this to keep up their guard and sustain high immunisation coverage.’
The WHO recommends that 95 per cent of two year olds are given the vaccination to contain any outbreaks.
But according to Italian data, only 85 per cent of those youngsters were given the jab in 2015.
Health officials believe that parents avoiding getting their children vaccinated due to scare stories surrounding a link to autism.
The association was first suggested by a British researcher, Andrew Wakefield, in a 1998 paper for medical journal The Lancet.
However, it was subsequently found to have been falsified and the paper was withdrawn in 2010.
Dr Wakefield was barred from practising medicine. Numerous major studies since have found no evidence of a link.
Although it usually only triggers relatively mild symptoms, measles can cause fatal complications.
Romania has reported more than 3,400 cases and 17 deaths since January 2016, according to the latest data available.
The majority of cases are concentrated in areas where immunisation coverage is especially low.
More than 700 cases have been registered since the start of 2017 in Italy, figures show.
This is compared with 220 in the same period last year. During the whole of 2016 there were just 844 cases.
More than half of those affected have been among the ages of 15 and 39. The outbreak has also been concentrated to Rome, Turin, Milan and Florence.
Italian health officials said the surge showed a worrying number of younger people were not fully vaccinated against the disease.
Health minister Beatrice Lorenzin said: ‘We need to rapidly boost the level of vaccination cover, which has fallen dangerously over recent years.’
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