BERN, SWITZERLAND – The 2011 measles epidemic that spiked in Basel, Geneva and Lausanne in the first four months of the year is moving on to eastern Switzerland, figures published Monday by the Federal Public Health Office show, with 515 cases throughout the country from 1 January to 24 May.
The 2011 epidemic appears to have reached its peak in western Switzerland, but numbers are now dropping. By mid-May, Geneva (110 cases) and Vaud (93) had felt the impact of a major epidemic in France, while Basel, with 57 cases, was affected mainly by a group that is reluctant to vaccinate its children.
Cantons Aargau, Saint Gall, Thurgau, Zurich, but also Neuchatel and Ticino are now seeing a rapid increase in cases.
Outbreaks in 2009 and 2010 prompted large vaccination programmes in the Swiss Army and at EPFL in Lausanne, after cases of the highly contagious disease developed. Geneva schools sent letters in April 2011 alerting parents to the need to vaccinate and follow up with a second vaccination, as the disease spread.
Public health authorities are again urging people to make sure they have had a followup vaccination if they had only one, and to be vaccinated if they were not. The disease, also called rubeola, is a respiratory tract infection that requires being quarantined. Complications can be more severe in adults: 41 percent of the Swiss cases since December 2010 have been adults over the age of 20. In 88 percent of the cases, the patients were not vaccinated at all and in 7 percent they were not sufficiently covered.