Measles Cases Soaring in Greece, Spreads Among Gypsies

(AP Photo/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cynthia Goldsmith)

ATHENS – Greece so far in 2018 has recorded 2,099 cases of measles, most in the unvaccinated gypsy or Roma community, which has a population of more than 300,000 across the country, a big jump in the incidence of the disease.

The highly contagious infectious virus is spreading because of a lack of immunizations with most of the cases showing in southern Greece among the gypsy population with three deaths recorded so far by the Hellenic Center for Disease and Control Prevention (HCDCP).

Children have been predominantly hit but there’s a big number of cases as well among young to middle-aged adults from 25-44 in the general population, the business newspaper Naftermoriki said.

Roma make up 65 percent of registered cases (1,263 out of 1,976), the rest of the population accounts for 25 percent of cases, and the other 10 percent comprises foreign nationals.

In September, 2017, there were already 196 cases. The head of the Hellenic Pediatric Society, Andreas Konstantopoulos, said then that 350,000 children aged 15 months to four years old had not been vaccinated, adding that it is unknown how many Greeks born after 1970 have received one dose – or none- of the MMR vaccine.

Konstantopoulos also said he’s in favour of making vaccination a compulsory requirement for the registration of children at school although some groups don’t believe in them and even think it’s part of a government conspiracy to inoculate their children.