Highly contagious European measles strain found in Colombia

Public health authorities in Bogota recently discovered a highly contagious form of the measles rarely seen in Colombia.

The "D4" strain is a mutation of the common measles. Although most patients survive the illness, there remains a high risk of complications among infants. Officials believe the measles strain was most likely imported from Europe, according to

Guillermo Alfonso Martinez, Bogota's health secretary, said that the capital's health watchdog discovered the strain and immediately issued a warning. He recently released details of the virus, as well as advice on how to prevent its spread throughout the metropolitan area.

Authorities suspect that the strain was carried to Bogota by an adult who was traveling in Europe over the last few days. Epidemics of D4 measles occurred in Great Britain in 2006 and 2007. Cases of the illness have also been reported in several other European countries, including Switzerland, France and Denmark, according to

A measles outbreak in Colombia last year led to a rush for the implementation of a major vaccination program. Eight-and-a-half million Colombians are supposed to have been vaccinated by the end of May 2012.

At the time, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Beatriz Londono called for physicians to become better oriented with the illness and its symptoms.

"Young doctors probably have never seen a case of measles, because there hasn't been a case in the last nine years," Londono said, reports.