Are we witnessing the beginning of a measles epidemic in France? Between September 19 and October 17, 59 cases have been diagnosed in the town of Guilherand-Granges, Ardèche. Most of the cases are middle school students from Charles-de-Gaulle public school, which has 650 students. Three primary schools in the area are also affected, and four adults have recently contracted the disease. Experts fear that the situation could worsen rapidly, as measles is highly contagious. In the absence of prior immunity, an infected person can spread the disease to an average of 15 to 20 people during a period ranging from five days before to five days after the appearance of the characteristic rash.
« Fortunately, the vaccination coverage in the college is very good: 95% of middle school students have received the necessary two doses. Otherwise, given the contagiousness of this virus, we would already have over 300 cases, » reassures the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Regional Health Agency (ARS), who visited the site in early October to check the students’ vaccination records. The result: « 100% of the known unvaccinated individuals have contracted measles, » explains the agency. This amounts to 11 cases, including two children who had to be hospitalized for several days. Among the other infected middle school students, 32 have received the two doses of vaccine that are supposed to provide effective and long-lasting protection against the virus.
Les vaccinés représentent ainsi 74 % des cas de rougeole notifiés. Un taux particulièrement élevé. Lors des dernières épidémies (2018-2019 ou 2008-2011), 75 % à 95 % des contagions étaient au contraire survenues chez des individus non ou insuffisamment vaccinés. Cette situation atypique explique sans doute les réticences de l’ARS à communiquer publiquement ces chiffres.
Les conséquences de l’épidémie de 2008-2011
After a meeting with several experts, two hypotheses emerge. Upon analyzing the vaccination records in detail, it appears that three-quarters of vaccinated and infected children received their first injection before the age of 1. Under normal circumstances, the High Health Authority recommends a first dose at 1 year, followed by a second dose between 16 and 18 months. However… in an epidemic situation, it is recommended to administer the first injection as soon as the infant is a close contact. The objective here is to prevent certain serious complications, including encephalomyelitis, an inflammation of the nervous system that occurs in 0.5 to 1 case per 1,000 infants.
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