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The number of measles cases in eastern Slovakia exceeds 100

The biggest epidemic of this disease in the past two decades has stricken 18 municipalities, with anti-epidemic measures appearing to fail.

Measles are confirmed with lab tests, illustrative stock photo(Source: Sme - Jozef Jakubčo)

The Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) has reported more than 100 cases of measles recently, making the situation the biggest measles epidemics in Slovakia in the past 20 years. The disease has already stricken 18 municipalities in eastern Slovakia, the Pravda daily wrote on July 4.

As a result, the town of Michalovce (Košice Region) started vaccinating entire streets.

“The problem is that people fail to observe the anti-epidemic measures,” the ÚVZ explained, as quoted by the daily. While in mid-June, there were only nine patients suffering from measles in the Michalovce-based hospital, on July 3, the number had reached 19. The age of the patients differs from three weeks to 47 years. Younger children, as well as senior patients, face more serious risks and a more severe prognosis.

Read also:Measles return to Slovakia after 20 years

In seven cases, the disease has been complicated by pneumonia, Jana Fedáková, spokesperson of the Svet Zdravia network of hospitals, told Pravda.

Exceptional measures required

The increase in the number of patients has required some special measures at the hospital. Some beds had to be re-profiled due to the limited capacity of the infectious diseases ward, Fedáková noted, adding that some patients needed to be moved to the geriatric ward instead, while patients from the latter ward have been placed in other wards of the hospital. “In case the figures increase, other hospitals in the Košice Region should be ready to accept those with the illness, the spokesperson added.

In the local hospital, visits have been banned, and other anti-epidemic measures have been applied.

How did this start?

The epidemic started at the end of May in the village of Drahňov, probably originating with three people who arrived from the UK. Apart from spreading there- despite a vast vaccination programme – it also extended to nearby villages (Falkušovce, Maťovské Vojkovce, Trhovište, Vysokú nad Uhom) and towns (Strážske, Michalovce, Košice), as well as afflicting three nurses from the infectious diseases ward in Michalovce who have now returned to work. Five more employees are waiting for the results of laboratory tests.

The hospital has vaccinated more than 650 medical staff. Other hospitals have not been affected yet.

The ÚVZ reported 101 cases of measles as of July 2, of which 52 are confirmed by laboratory examination. Most patients are aged between 15 and 19, with eight of them having their condition aggravated by pneumonia. The spread of this disease is continuing, despite measures, the ÚVZ noted for Pravda, adding that most patients come from marginalised communities with poor hygiene conditions and a population unwilling to comply with anti-epidemic measures.

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