Measles epidemic in Sarajevo, one baby dead

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Source: N1

Authorities pointed out there was a measles epidemic in Sarajevo on Friday, saying the disease has already claimed the life of a seven-month-old girl, while 113 persons are infected. None of the infected patients were vaccinated.

The ‘herd-immunity’ of a population has to reach 95 per cent in order to prevent the disease from spreading and to protect those who cannot receive the vaccine.

However, currently, only 60,2 per cent of the population in Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) semi-autonomous region are vaccinated.

In recent years many parents have refused to allow their children to be immunised, following a global trend initiated by the anti-vaccination movement.

Authorities said they will start inspecting and monitoring all premises where children spend time, but the problem is that some of them are unregistered.

The law foresees fines for parents who do not vaccinate their children, but there are no legal procedures that could coerce parents into doing so and many are willing to pay the fine.

Thirteen patients are currently hospitalised, which includes one child currently hooked on a respirator. Every day more than 10 new measles patients visit the clinic, public health authorities in Canton Sarajevo said at a press conference on Friday.

“It can be expected that the epidemic will within the next few days be intensified,” according to the Sarajevo University Clinical Center.

The first case was recorded on January 22, cantonal health institution representatives said at the press conference.

An epidemic was already declared in Sarajevo in 2015 when 1,500 cases were recorded.

“Considering that the immunisations coverage is less than 50 per cent in Canton Sarajevo, in theory, there is a chance that some 60,000 citizens could contract the disease. We hope it won’t come to that,” said the head of the Epidemiology department, Aida Pitic.

The experts called on parents to vaccinate their children, saying that it is not only for their sake, but also to protect the entire population.

They advocated for schools to require documentation that proves children are vaccinated before they are enrolled.

The highly infectious disease is caused by a virus and symptoms include fever, coughing, a runny nose and inflamed eyes. This may be followed by a red rash all over the body, diarrhoea, pneumonia and other inflammations, including of the brain.