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Measles epidemic is rampant in Berlin and Bavaria
Germany is currently suffering from a measles epidemic. Especially in Bavaria and Berlin, the viral infection is rampant and not only children can get sick. A remarkable number of adults have contracted measles this year. One reason is the lack of vaccination protection for many people. Many do not seem to know that the disease can take a very severe course.
More and more adults get measles
Many people think that measles is a childhood disease. But the disease can also affect adults and often takes a severe course. In the worst case, the virus infection can be fatal to the patient. Many experts therefore recommend measles vaccination.
What happens when people don't get vaccinated can currently be seen in Germany. Since January of this year, 686 more measles patients have been infected than in the previous year. Berlin and Bavaria in particular are struggling with the epidemic. To date, more than 82 percent of measles cases have occurred in the two federal states. 323 cases were registered in Berlin, compared to only 160 in 2011. In 2002, only two patients developed measles.
"This year, a particularly large number of adults have also been infected with the measles virus," Regina Kneiding from the press office of the Berlin Senate Health Administration told the "Berliner Morgenpost". The Senate responded by expanding its vaccination recommendation. All Berliners should check their vaccination protection regardless of age and The recommendation of the Robert Koch Institute's (RKI) Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) refers to adults who were born after 1970. In earlier years it was likely that they already had measles and were therefore immune .
Doctor could have infected baby with measles Recently, a measles case in the Berlin Charité made headlines. A doctor may have infected a little girl with the virus. The doctor had treated the ten-month-old baby. A few days later, he noticed that he was suffering from measles and not from a cold as previously suspected. The girl also fell ill from the infectious disease. “There were nine days between contact with the affected child and the employee's measles diagnosis. It cannot therefore be ruled out that the child could have been infected by someone outside the hospital, ”Manuela Zingl, spokeswoman for the Charité, told the newspaper.
Nevertheless, the question is inevitably how it can happen that a doctor infects a patient with an infectious disease for whom vaccination protection is available. Contrary to the assumption of many patients in Germany, in contrast to many other countries in Europe, there is no compulsory vaccination - not even for doctors and nursing staff. Nevertheless, the STIKO gives a vaccination recommendation for these professional groups. “For a given occupational exposure, STIKO recommends that all those born after 1970 who have not been vaccinated against measles or only once in childhood or whose vaccination status is unclear should have a single vaccination against measles - preferably a MMR combination vaccine should be used. Occupational exposure can be assumed for people who work in the health service and in the care of immunodeficient people as well as in community facilities, ”says the recommendation. It is not known why the Charité doctor apparently decided not to use the vaccine.
Measles is one of the most dangerous infectious diseases “Measles is one of the most dangerous viral infections that we know of in Germany. Therefore, everyone who has no proven vaccination protection or a documented measles infection in the past should be vaccinated, "Ulrich Fegeler, spokesman for the professional association of pediatricians, told the newspaper. Opponents of vaccination" act from an irrational point of view. In theory, complications can always occur there is no valid evidence to show this specifically for measles vaccination, "added Fegeler. "It is much more likely that you will be hit by lightning or be hit by a traffic accident."
The measles vaccination is usually given with a combination vaccine (MMR vaccine). The first vaccination is given to children between the ages of 12 and 14 months, the second between 15 and 23 months. As the professional association of pediatricians informs, school entry examinations have shown “that the vaccination rate against measles has increased significantly in recent years, but so far only the five- and six-year-old pupils from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have the necessary vaccination rate of over 95 percent for both vaccinations achieved against measles ”. Vaccination in childhood is very important, “because every adult who becomes infected can, for example, infect infants whom we cannot yet vaccinate. And measles can have serious long-term consequences for these small children, ”explained Dr. Martin Lang, Chairman of the Bavarian State Association in the professional association of pediatricians.
Measles can cause serious illnesses. While side effects of measles vaccination are rare, especially in older and defensively weakened patients, measles can have serious illnesses, for example with pneumonia. But even with previously healthy, younger people, measles can even be fatal. So-called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a generalized inflammation of the brain with nerve removal, causes the most serious damage and always ends in death. It occurs late in about one in 10,000 patients. One in 1,000 patients develop brain inflammation, which can also be fatal.
SSPE has a long incubation period that can last for several years. Those affected suffer from loss of brain nerve cells, which can be seen in psychological and intellectual changes. In the further course, epileptic seizures and failures of important nerve functions occur until the patient dies.
The case of a 14-year-old from North Rhine-Westphalia who recently died of SSPE shows how important measles vaccination is. The boy had contracted the virus at the age of five months in a pediatrician's waiting room. At this point the child was too young to be vaccinated. Babies in particular depend on their contact persons being vaccinated. “We know that infants who are infected with measles in particular have an increased risk of developing SSPE. In the first year of life, the immune system is presumably not yet able to ward off the dangerous viruses and prevent the pathogens from entering the brain, ”explained Dr. Martin Terhardt from the professional association of pediatricians. (ag)
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