OSLO, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Norway's public health agency said Wednesday it had registered three cases of measles in the Nordic country this week as outbreaks of the disease are soaring across Europe.
According to a report of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, all three persons were infected abroad.
"The diagnostics have been confirmed by laboratory tests," Didrik Vestrheim, a department director of the institute, was quoted as saying.
"All cases include persons who are not vaccinated. This emphasizes that it is necessary to be vaccinated...if one has not had the disease," he said.
The first case was an infected Norwegian health worker who was admitted to a hospital in Norway after returning to the country. The other two cases involve child siblings from Oslo.
The institute has seen to it that all the people who were in contact with the three patients have been informed.
"Currently, we have no indication on more cases, but will follow this closely in the future," Vestrheim said.
Those who have not been vaccinated and have been in contact with the infected patients have been offered a vaccine, the report said.
In Norway, all children are offered a MMR immunization vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella.
Most Norwegians have been vaccinated against measles since the vaccine was introduced in 1969. Most Norwegians born before 1960 have had the disease and are therefore immune.
400 PCT HIKE IN MEASLES CASES IN EUROPE
The World Health Organization (WHO)'s regional office for Europe in Copenhagen, Denmark, said Monday that Europe saw a 400-percent increase in measles cases in 2017 compared to the previous year, affecting more than 21,000 people and causing 35 deaths.
The spike included large outbreaks, meaning 100 or more cases, in 15 of the 53 countries in the region. It came as a blow, following a record low 5,273 cases in 2016.
Romania, Italy and Ukraine reported the highest number of people affected, together accounting for over 70 percent of the entire number in Europe.
Measles, a highly contagious viral disease, can cause long-term damage or even kill patients. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis -- an infection that causes brain swelling and can lead to deafness or learning difficulties, severe diarrhea, and severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.