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Thu 24 Apr 2008 07:15 AM

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Swiss warn of measles risk - Euro 2008

Football fans risk being literally as "sick as a parrot" whether their teams win or lose at this summer's Euro 2008 games.

Football fans risk being literally as "sick as a parrot" whether their teams win or lose at this summer's Euro 2008 games in Switzerland due to a measles epidemic, health authorities warned Wednesday.

Switzerland has been in the grip of a measles epidemic for more than a year and it has not yet been brought under control, the head of the Federal Vaccinations Commission Claire-Anne Siegrist said.

This means that fans risk catching the virus and taking it back to their home countries, Siegrist told Switzerland's French-language radio.

Federal Health Office spokesman Jean-Louis Zurcher added that people travelling to Switzerland should check their vaccinal status.

The landlocked Alpine state topped a list of European countries which have seen an alarming rise in measles cases in the past year, according to a European Union report issued last week.

"We're moving in the wrong direction," said Ben Duncan, a spokesman for the Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, noting that the World Health Organisation aims to rid Europe of measles by 2010.

Measles is a highly contagious disease characterised by high fever and the eruption of small red spots that kills about one person for every 1,000 infections.

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