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The 2018 soccer World Cup kicks off in Russia next week, but attendees will have a little more to worry about than whether or not their team will advance to the finals.
The European office of the World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging those going to the World Cup to get vaccinated for the measles. There are currently outbreaks of measles, a highly infectious disease typically spread through coughing and sneezing, in some areas of Europe.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, 28 countries in the European Union or European Economic Area reported over 14,000 cases of measles, according to a report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Since the beginning of 2016 the EU has seen 57 measles-related deaths and the ECDC explains that 87 percent of the the reported cases came from unvaccinated individuals. This highly contagious virus can can linger in infected spaces for up to two hours and if one person has it, 90 percent of people close to the infected person who are not immune will also become infected, according to the Center for Disease Control.
However, with the mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, the risks of infection are reduced to almost zero. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are 97 percent effective in preventing the disease.
“It’s very important that individuals check their status before they travel so they don’t contract the disease at the World Cup or, worse, that they don’t bring it into their home communities and import it into countries that may have already eliminated the disease,” Robb Butler, who heads the Vaccine-preventable Diseases and Immunization Program for the WHO’s European office, told CNN. According to data Butler cited, last year more than 20,000 people across Europe got measles, and at least 35 died.
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