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Europe Travelers Advised to Vaccinate Against Outbreak

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Spreading across Europe
Vaccination rates are lower than they were before the pandemic

If you’re planning a trip to Europe, you may want to remember the following news.

Pertussis, a respiratory infectious disease, is currently sweeping across Europe. It’s the first time in hundreds of years since the Victorian era (1837-1901) that pertussis has been prevalent in Europe.

European travel. Image for understanding the article / NDAB Creativity-Shutterstock.com
 

The number of pertussis patients has surged in countries such as the UK, Spain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Croatia over the past few months, according to a report by Politico on the 7th (local time).

Pertussis is a respiratory disease caused by infection with the gram-negative bacteria Bordetella pertussis. It is one of the most contagious infectious diseases.

The disease typically increases in incidence during the summer and fall and spreads through direct contact with infected individuals or through the respiratory system by coughing, sneezing, and other means.

When infected, patients may initially have cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose and sore throat, which may progress to “whooping” respiratory sounds, coughing attacks, and vomiting. Some patients may also complain of difficulty breathing.

Vaccination stock photo. Image for understanding the article / Andrew Angelov-Shutterstock.com
 

Although the incidence of pertussis is decreasing due to vaccination, the disease is still dangerous, especially for young children, who have a higher mortality rate.

In response, most European countries, including South Korea, administer a combined vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis to infants between 2 and 12 months of age. Pregnant women also receive a pertussis vaccine before giving birth. When a mother gets the vaccine, the antibodies are transferred to the fetus through the placenta, which helps build immunity in the child and significantly reduces the risk of death from pertussis after birth.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), most of the pertussis-infected deaths in the European Union this year have been in infants under three months old.

The country with the highest rate of transmission is Croatia, with 6,261 reported cases in the first quarter of this year (out of a total population of 3,986,627, according to the National Statistical Office)

The Czech Republic, which is experiencing its highest incidence of pertussis in 60 years, is reportedly facing a vaccine shortage.

Stock photo of an airport in the UK crowded with travelers / Kollawat Somsri-Shutterstock.com
 

The situation in the UK is also critical. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reported 853 cases of pertussis in the UK last year, but this year, the number has already surpassed 1,466 in just the first two months.

The rise in pertussis cases in Europe has been attributed to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, negative public opinion towards vaccinations has risen, leading to a decrease in the vaccination rate for pertussis, according to the ECDC.

The rate of pertussis vaccinations in Europe has significantly dropped compared to pre-pandemic levels.

A report titled “Surge in pertussis in the UK and Europe” published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) shows that the pertussis vaccination rate for pregnant women was over 70% in September 2017 but had dropped to 58% by September last year.

The ECDC stated in a report last month, “The current surge in pertussis is associated with decreased blood circulation during the COVID-19 pandemic and claims from certain groups.”

Michael Head, a researcher at the University of Southampton’s School of Medicine, pointed out, “Since the pandemic, anti-vaccine advocates have spread misinformation about vaccines, and that misinformation is making Europeans hesitant to get vaccinated.”

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KCDC), pertussis can be prevented through the DPT vaccination (Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus).

The vaccine is recommended for all infants, teenagers, and adults. The form of the vaccine can vary slightly depending on the antigen content. Adults over 18 who have completed their essential vaccinations as a child are recommended to get vaccinated every ten years.

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