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Several measles outbreaks reported from Russia’s Urals regions

January 28, 2014, 19:18 UTC+3 YEKATERINBURG

It is premature to speak about epidemics - Russian consumer rights protection authority

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YEKATERINBURG, January 28. /ITAR-TASS/. Three measles outbreaks have been registered in Russia’s Urals federal district, for the first time in the past 10-12 years. Three measles patients have been taken to hospital in the Sverdolvsk region, one - in the Khanty-Mansi autonomous area, and 19 - in the town of Novy Urengoi, Yamalo-Nenets autonomous area.

However, head of the Sverdlovsk regional department of the Russian consumer rights protection authority (Rospoterbnadzor) Andrei Yurovskikh said that although the situation aroused certain concerns for medics, it was premature to speak about epidemics. “About one hundred people, who had contacted with one measles patient, are in the risk zone,” he said. “So far, we do not know whether they had been inoculated or not. No infection forgives slackened attention. In the past ten to twelve years, we registered one or two measles cases. It has made many people think that the measles risks exist no more. People now prefer not to be vaccinated against measles. The level of community immunity has lowered. Now there are many people prone to this disease. As a result, we registered several measles outbreaks in January.”

According to the regional health authorities, all the people who contracted measles had not been inoculated. “If we look at official statistics, the situation in the Middle Urals is ‘bright’ - residents are being actively vaccinated against measles and the threat of a measles outbreak is minimal,” Yurovsky said. “But things are absolutely different in reality. So, the question is: does the official statistics reflect the actual situation?”

Local Rospotrebnadzor authorities are making efforts to contain a possible measles outbreak in Surgut, after one such case was reported there. “A patient with suspected measles was taken to the infection ward of the local hospital shortly after his trip to the Moscow region,” a spokesman for the local Rospotrebnadzor department said on Tuesday. “It is the second such case in the past days. Another measles case was reported in late December 2013. It was a shift worker from [the North Caucasian Republic of] Dagestan, who arrived in the Khanty-Mansi area. Five measles cases have been brought to the Khanty-Mansi area in the past five years. Thanks to the high community immunity, there were no epidemics.”

Vaccination campaign

Mass vaccination campaign against measles has been launched in the settlement of Limbyayakha and in Novy Urengoi’s Korotchayevo district, where more than 30 measles cases have been registered in January.

“As many as 1,230 people were inoculated in Korotchayevo in the past weekend. Reports from Limbyayakha are expected by the end of the day,” head of the Novy Urengoi Rospotrebnadzor department Natalia Lyutaya told Itar-Tass. “In all, 5,000 people have been vaccinated in Korotchayevo.”

Situation in Chelyabinsk

No measles cases had been registered in the Chelyabinsk region in the past eight years before September 2013. The disease was brought to the Chelyabinsk region from the republic of Bashkortostan by gypsies, according to Raisa Kosareva, head of the epidemics control department of the regional Rospoterbnadzor office. The majority of cases - 61 - have been reported among gypsies, mostly among children. “There are measles patients among local residents. Measles has been diagnosed among 31 people,” she said.

Apart from Bashkortostan, the infection reaches the Chelyabinsk region from Russia’s republic of Yakutia, Rostov regions, and from Kyrgyzstan. Local authorities are conducting a mandatory inoculation campaign among children younger than six years of age. Non-vaccinated children are not allowed to attend school in line with an instruction of the region’s chief sanitary doctor, Anatoly Semenov.

However, many parents refuse to have their children vaccinated, Kosareva said. Thus, three fourth of the 2,462 non-vaccinated children (0.6% of the overall number) skipped vaccinations due to this reason.

Last week, Rospotrebnadzor said that measles situation in the country was serious. The watchdog warned that parents who avoided inoculation of their children exposed their health and life to danger.

In 2013, measles cases were reported in 58 Russian regions.

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