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Rajoni

Measles epidemic in the Western Balkans, experts clarify the causes

Measles epidemic in the Western Balkans, experts clarify the causes

The lack of mass immunization and the high rate of infection with the virus is increasing the number of children affected by smallpox in the Western Balkan region.

Measles, as an almost extinct viral disease, is transmitted and can be fatal for both children and adults if not prevented through timely vaccination.

Initial symptoms appear 9 to 14 days after infection and include high fever, runny nose, conjunctivitis and white patches inside the mouth. The recovery period lasts 2–3 weeks.

Belgrade has declared the epidemic after dozens of patients have presented with symptoms of the disease, while in Bosnia and Herzegovina the situation is more serious with thousands of patients and Croatia reports a possible epidemic.

To protect children from this disease in time, doctors for decades recommend and give the MMR vaccine, with protective components against measles, rubella and mumps.

"According to the valid vaccination calendar in our country, the vaccine is given in two doses, at the age of one year and when the child is enrolled in primary school. Protection from the first dose is 95 percent, and to have the so-called 'collective immunity' and in in this way to prevent the disease from appearing in the population, we must have 95 percent vaccination coverage against this disease.

Currently, less than 65 percent of our children are vaccinated against measles, so at best we can expect such epidemics every four years if the percentage of children vaccinated does not increase. We currently have about 4,500 registered cases in Bosnia and Herzegovina as of December 2023," says Bosnian pediatrician Aleksandra Vladicic (née Alexandra Vladicic).

The decrease in the number of vaccinated children was mainly influenced by the insufficient information and knowledge of parents about vaccination, namely the information of parents by non-professionals and certain forums on the Internet.

"The anti-vaccination lobby has also had a big impact," replies Dr. Vladicic.