First measles death in years

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Measles death: Pediatricians alarmed

For weeks now, health authorities have reported a drastic increase in measles diseases, especially in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Now that it became known that a 26-year-old patient in a Munich clinic had already died from the effects of measles at the end of March, the professional association of pediatricians (BVKJ) in Bavaria was also alarmed.

The massive spread of measles infectious disease in the past few weeks was, according to the Baden-Württemberg State Health Office, a clear sign of the low vaccination rates among the population. The health authorities uniformly criticized the negligent handling of measles vaccinations. Now Sean Monks, spokesman for the Bavarian Association of Pediatricians (BVKJ), followed suit and emphasized to the news agency "dapd": "That a person dies of measles in Germany is a scandal."

Measles especially dangerous for people with previous illnesses Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease, which can lead to serious health problems, especially in adults with previous illnesses. However, measles vaccinations have been able to suppress the disease relatively successfully, so that the World Health Organization (WHO) had already announced the goal of "eliminating" measles in Germany by 2010, said Sean Monks. However, since it became apparent that this goal could not be achieved within the specified time frame, the WHO had to postpone the time limit to 2015. However, the current wave of measles disease shows that measles pathogens are more widespread in the unprotected population than was recently thought. The death of the 26-year-old patient in a Munich clinic not only shows how dangerous measles diseases can be, especially in people with previous illnesses, but also, according to the BVKJ, casts an unfavorable light on the vaccination practice among the treating clinic staff. Because the patient being treated for a tumor disease in the Munich hospital not only infected his room neighbor but also clinical staff with measles, said the BVKJ, citing the Weilheim health office.

Unprotected hospital staff unacceptable according to the BVKJ The infection of the hospital staff and the associated risk of transmission is, in the BVKJ's view, an alarming signal for the negligent handling of measles vaccinations. "The fact that there are unvaccinated staff in the hospital cannot be accepted," emphasized Dr. Martin Terhardt from BVKJ, member of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) vaccination committee. Sean Monks also said, "The case shows that the nursing staff is not vaccinated sufficiently." This should "not be at all," criticized Monks. Although the 26-year-old's death was the first measles death in years, the spread of viruses in the unprotected population had reached alarming proportions. Due to the considerable risk of infection, especially in doctor's offices, clinics, nursing and community facilities, comprehensive vaccination protection of the staff should be a matter of course, since the patients accommodated here often suffer from pre-existing diseases in which measles infection would pose a massive health risk. According to the BVKJ, clinics should ideally ensure that vaccination protection is available when hiring staff.

Measles transmission by droplet infection The measles virus is usually transmitted by the so-called droplet infection, in which the viruses are transmitted through the air by excreted aerosols. Measles is considered highly contagious and 95 percent of people who do not have protective antibodies fall ill after contact with the virus after seven to eighteen days, a spokesman for the Baden-Württemberg State Health Office explained earlier this month. Symptoms of measles disease include fever, headache, conjunctivitis, runny nose and cough as well as the typical spotty-nodular reddish rash (measles rash). After surviving the disease, those affected are now immune to measles for life. (fp)

Read about measles:
WHO: Measles increase in Europe
Measles also affects adults
The measles infectious disease is spreading
Vaccination review: how useful are vaccinations?

Image: Gerd Altmann /

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