Increase in measles cases in Germany
More and more people are suffering from measles in Germany
A striking number of people suffer from measles this year. By 1 September, 1,542 cases had been reported, said the Federal Ministry of Health. That's about ten times as many measles sufferers as last year. The cause, according to the Federal Government, is "insufficient vaccination coverage". Many physicians therefore demand the introduction of a so-called vaccination obligation.
Measles can cause disease
About ten times more people suffer from measles this year than in the previous year. In 2012, only 165 cases were registered nationwide. Experts point out, however, that the numbers are generally subject to strong fluctuations. In 2001, even 6,000 people suffered from the infectious disease, in 2006, after all, 2,300 citizens, but in 2010, only 780 people. Why the number of patients has such fluctuations can have different causes. Many experts criticize the lack of protection against measles in this context. Many parents did not have their children vaccinated because of fear of unwanted vaccine side effects.
Measles can cause life-threatening diseases. Older and immunocompromised people, in particular, often suffer from severe disease progression, for example with pneumonia. But even in healthy, young people, a measles infection can be life-threatening. Particularly dangerous is the so-called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). The generalized inflammation of the brain with nerve demyelination causes the most serious damage, which inevitably leads to the death of the patient. SSPE has a long incubation period of several years. The first signs of the disease include the loss of brain nerve cells, which is manifested by mental and intellectual changes and dropouts. Epileptic seizures and failures of important nerve functions are added as the disease progresses until the patient dies.
Talk about measles vaccination does not stop
Bavaria is currently the leader among the federal states with 711 measles cases. In Berlin (487 cases) and North Rhine-Westphalia (122 cases), many measles patients were also registered, as the Ministry further announced, citing the Robert Koch Institute.
The only effective protection against the infectious disease is currently a vaccine. Between the eleventh and twenty-third months, according to official recommendations, children should be vaccinated twice against measles, mumps and rubella. All adults born after 1970 will be offered a one-time measles vaccine. For fear of possible side effects, many parents still do not have their children vaccinated against measles. This is particularly problematic if the unvaccinated child falls ill and with young children who are still too young for the vaccine, or comes into contact with other non-vaccinated people.
Recently, Federal Minister of Health Daniel Bahr (FDP) had announced an amendment to the Infection Protection Act, according to which unvaccinated students can be exempt from their lessons for a measles outbreak from their school. So far, this regulation only applies to sick children. Another measure could be to inquire about the vaccination protection of the children already at admission to kindergarten by the health authorities. A vaccination obligation, according to Bahr but the last resort.
According to a recent Emnid survey commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Health, 78 percent of Germans rate a measles infection as dangerous. However, the official recommendations for measles vaccination are only 48 percent known. (Ag)