Measles peak in Berlin

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Berlin has had the most measles infections for 10 years

After the state health authorities and the professional association of pediatricians (BVKJ) had warned of the increasing spread of measles in May, Berlin has now reached a ten-year peak in the number of measles infections. The World Health Organization's goal of eradicating measles in Europe by the end of 2015 therefore seems unattainable.

Already at the beginning of the year there was a clear increase in measles diseases in Germany. Especially from Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, significantly more measles infections were reported between January and May than in the same period last year. However, the number of illnesses has also increased significantly in northern Germany, as the latest report of a ten-year high from Berlin confirms. 130 measles diseases were reported here in the first half of 2011, which corresponds to an increase of more than 45 percent compared to the previous year (92 reported measles infections in 2010), according to the Berlin Health Senate Administration, the Medical Association and the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians on Thursday. In particular, toddlers under the age of one year are affected much more often than in 2010. According to the experts, the health consequences should not be underestimated. About half of the patients had to be hospitalized because of the illness, the authorities report.

According to the experts, the health effects of the viral infection include fever, headache, conjunctivitis, runny nose and cough in the early stages of the disease, as well as the typical blotchy, reddened rash (measles rash) in the later course of the disease. If the course of the disease is severe, pneumonia and middle ear infections and, in rare cases, life-threatening inflammations of the brain can occur. Fortunately, according to the authorities, measles patients in Berlin have so far not had any inflammation of the brain. All in all, measles diseases are increasing significantly across Germany, since vaccination protection has declined significantly among the population, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the professional association of pediatricians. According to the RKI, 1,485 measles infections were reported across Germany in the first half of 2011, which is almost three times the previous year.

That is why the BVKJ and the RKI have been urging measles vaccination for months. Small children should therefore also be vaccinated, whereby two vaccinations are required between the eleventh and fourteenth months of life and the 15th and 23rd months of life. According to the RKI and the BVKJ, newborns and infants under the age of eleven months who are not yet able to receive their own vaccination due to the impending health risks are particularly at risk from a complicated course of the disease. In addition, they benefit considerably from a good vaccination of their surroundings in the course of herd immunity, report BVKJ and RKI. In addition, the skepticism of many parents towards vaccinations is relatively unfounded, since the vaccine is well tolerated overall and side effects are extremely rare, said BVKJ President Wolfram Hartmann in May. But vaccinations generally represent a major intervention in our immune system, as the chairman of the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), Jan Leidel, explained. This is necessary so that the vaccinations “work, but as with any effective medication it can sometimes lead to undesirable side effects,” says the STIKO chairman. (fp)

Also read:
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?
Measles is raging in Baden-Württemberg

Image: Gerd Altmann /

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Video: What you need to know about measles vaccination


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