Measles and complications in Germany

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Measles and possible complications in Germany

Measles is a highly contagious viral infectious disease. A course in two phases is typical of the disease. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the incubation period, i.e. the time between infection and outbreak, is about 10 to 14 days. This is followed by a rather uncharacteristic phase that lasts about three to four days. At this initial stage measles manifests itself as inflammation of the mucous membranes such as runny nose, dry cough and with an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The symptoms in this phase are commonly referred to as "swollen, howled and rotten". In addition, there is usually a high fever up to 41 degrees Celsius, nausea, headache and sore throat.

The second phase of the disease begins after the 12th and 14th day. Only then does the typically occurring dark red and large blotchy rash appear. After about four to five more days, the symptoms usually go away. This usually leaves a flaky scaling of the skin, which, however, only lasted for a short time. The course of the disease is much more severe in adults than in children. The viral infection occurs through a droplet transmission when an already infected person transfers droplets of saliva to a healthy person by coughing, speaking or kissing. Complications that are frequently observed include inflammation of the middle ear or pneumonia. Adequate medical treatment does not exist because it is a viral infection. However, those who have survived measles remain immune for a lifetime.

Increase in the infection rate in Germany
In Germany, experts at the RKI have noticed a slight increase in the infection rate. While there were still 780 measles cases in 2010, 1,500 people fell ill in the first nine months of this year. According to the scientists at the Paul Ehrlich Institute in Langen, measles infections are on the rise again in Germany despite the relatively high vaccination rate. This is due to the spread of a highly infectious virus protein that has only recently been discovered. According to the researchers, this is the so-called transmembrane protein Nectin-4.

Rare but deadly long-term consequences
A very feared late consequence of measles is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). Viruses penetrate the brain and destroy vital nerve cells there. The outbreak time between the actual measles disease and the first appearance of the SSPE symptoms is between six and ten years. Doctors assume that the risk is greatest when very young children are confronted with measles. Measles itself rarely leads to death. Complications such as pneumonia or brain inflammation are usually responsible for mortality. According to the RKI, the death rate is 1: 10,000 and 1: 20,000. US health officials expect mortality to be much higher. A quota of 1: 500 to 1: 1000 per measles case is given here. The disease has had to be reported in Germany since 2001, reports Dr. Jan Leidel from the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) at the RKI. If a treating doctor already makes a suspicious diagnosis, this must be reported to the health department. People who have come into closer contact with the patient will be vaccinated within 72 hours if there is insufficient vaccination protection.

The RKI and the World Health Organization appeal to parents to be vaccinated. Children should be immunized with two doses up to the age of 15. The first vaccine dose is usually given until the 14th month of life. The second vaccination takes place at the end of the second year of life. All adults born after 1970 should also fill in a possibly existing vaccine gap. People with an immunodeficiency disorder and women during pregnancy and lactation are excluded from the vaccination recommendation.

Some doctors and vaccination critics warn of possible vaccine complications and damage. It was not uncommon for mild fever, headache, low mood, mild pain and swelling at the injection site to be observed after vaccination. Serious side effects are very rare, but they are still possible. These include pronounced allergic reactions, encephalitis and a drop in the number of blood platelets. Overall, however, vaccination against measles is considered safe and necessary. Researchers in specialist publications criticize the fact that studies on possible vaccine complications have been carried out inadequately as insufficient. (sb)

Also read:
Why measles is contagious
Measles are also becoming increasingly common in adults
Germany as a measles exporter
First measles death in years
WHO: Measles increase in Europe
Measles also affects adults
The measles infectious disease is spreading
Vaccination review: how useful are vaccinations?

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