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Rise in Measles Cases

The number of measles cases has risen to 23 in Portugal, with six cases still under investigation, according to a report by the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).

Compared to last week, three new cases of measles were confirmed, two in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley Region and one in the North Region, according to Epidemiological Bulletin No. 8 – Measles Epidemic Activity in Portugal 2024, released on Tuesday.

Of a total of 169 suspected cases reported between the 1st of January and the 21st of April 21 of this year, 140 were discarded.

Most of the cases were registered in Lisbon and Vale do Tejo, where 14 cases were confirmed, followed by the North, with seven, and the Central region and the Autonomous Region of Madeira, both with one case.

According to the health authority, four patients required hospitalization, and no deaths have been recorded.

The first of the confirmed cases was that of a 20-month-old baby who was not a Portuguese resident and not vaccinated.

The DGS warns of the importance of vaccination against measles according to the National Vaccination Program, which recommends two doses for children and adults born after 1970.

According to the Annual Vaccination Synthesis Report 2024 of the Directorate-General for Health, released on Tuesday, vaccination against measles met and exceeded the national and international target of 95%, “reinforcing protection to prevent or limit outbreaks.”

“The recommended vaccination at two months of age is met, but there is a fringe of 17% to 19% of children who remain susceptible to measles and meningococcal C disease at 13 months of age.”

For the DGS, the “95% target is critical for measles, as it is highly transmissible and because these children attend pre-school establishments, facilitating its transmission,” arguing, therefore, that this is “an indicator to be improved,” for example by raising awareness among parents or legal guardians of minors to comply with the recommended vaccination at 12 months.

As part of the measles epidemiological surveillance activity, the DGS stresses the importance of immediate notification of suspected cases on the computer platform supporting the National Epidemiological Surveillance System (SINAVE), in accordance with the current legal framework, ensuring timely intervention in the reduction of transmission chains.

Samantha Gannon

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