In 2015, Romanian health officials say only seven confirmed cases of measles were reported through the whole year and no fatalities.

During the first eight months of 2016 is a totally different story as the Health Ministry has registered 675 cases to date, including 2 deaths in infants (a third death is under investigation).


Why the huge increase in measles?

Health officials blame the surge in measles in the country on anti-vaccination campaigns, which have attracted the support of many Romanian parents in recent years. Those who oppose vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) claim that the vaccine causes autism.

Related: How contagious is measles? Answer: Very

According to the World Health Organization, measles remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Approximately 114 900 people died from measles in 2014 – mostly children under the age of 5.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after infection, include high fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.

There is no specific treatment for measles and most people recover within 2–3 weeks. However, particularly in malnourished children and people with reduced immunity, measles can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia. Measles can be prevented by immunization.