There are currently 124 cases of measles in Bulgaria, chief state health inspector Angel Kunchev said on March 16, Bulgarian National Radio reported.
This is more than four times more than the number of cases since Bulgaria’s Health Ministry started issuing regular updates on the country’s measles situation in late February.
Kunchev said that so far 112 parents had been fined for failing to have their children vaccinated.
The measles outbreak in Bulgaria had been influenced by the anti-vaccine movement, Kunchev said. Regular updates by the Health Ministry have said that the vast majority of measles infections have been of children who had not been vaccinated.
At the moment, most of the infections were in the district of Blagoevgrad, in Sofia and in Ihtiman, with just two in the Bulgarian Black Sea cities of Bourgas and Varna.
“But the virus is very mobile and we expect it to migrate even more,” Kunchev said.
He noted that in Ukraine, out of 56 000 infected children, 700 had died. In Romania, 5000 had been infected and 60 had died. In Serbia, measles infection cases added up to 3500 and 2500 in Greece, while in the Republic of North Macedonia, there had been 450 cases of children infected with measles, and four had died.
In February, as the measles outbreak began in Bulgaria, the Health Ministry issued an instruction via regional health inspectorates for a check-up of cases where children had not had the compulsory vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
The inspections have identified numerous cases of failure to vaccinate children, a consequence of anti-vaccine disinformation on the internet.
Bulgaria’s health authorities have sought to address the outbreak by dispatching teams to give free-of-charge vaccinations in various targeted areas.
The World Health Organisation said in February that the number of measles infections in Europe in 2018 was triple that in 2017 and 15 times the record-low number of people recorded in 2016.