In 2016, there were 7 reported cases of measles in the Czech Republic.
That number shot up to 142 last year. By December 7, 2018, it stood at 189 instances.
According to Czech media watchdog Hlídací pes, the increase in the number of measles cases is due at least in part to the rise of anti-vaccination campaigns and conspiracy theories.
“One of the major factors influencing this situation is the negative attitude of the population to vaccines and especially the measles vaccination, which is fundamentally influenced by anti-vaccine campaigns,” Kateřina Fabiánová, from the Department of Infectious Diseases of the State Health Institute, told the server.
Going by a recent report from the Vaccine Confidence Project, confidence in vaccines in the Czech Republic is among the lowest in the EU.
While measles vaccinations are mandatory in the Czech Republic for all children after the age of 13 months, a large percentage of the cases of infections are among unvaccinated children.
In Prague alone, there were 22 cases of measles reported in unvaccinated children; six of them were under the age of 13 months, and parents had refused vaccination in the other 16 cases, according to a report from Prague’s Hygiene Station (HSHMP).
Highly contagious, measles can result in complications leading to pneumonia, laryngitis, and (in an estimated .1% of cases) death. Up to 10% of measles cases can result in ear infections that lead to permanent hearing loss.
During 2016-2017, there were 49 deaths attributed to measles across the EU.
“It is tragic and unacceptable that 49 children and adults in EU countries have died from complications of measles infection in the past two years, while safe and effective vaccines are readily available,” Dr. Andrea Ammon, Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), stated earlier this year.
One of the highest levels of measles is in the Ukraine, which has registered 31,000 cases and 14 deaths due to the infection this year alone. Ukrainians represent the highest number of foreign immigrants to the Czech Republic.