The measles infectious disease is spreading



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Measles is spreading: The health authorities of the city of Lübeck are currently warning of the spread of measles among adults. The health agency has already diagnosed the disease in four patients. It is feared that other people have been infected, said the head of the agency, Dr. Michael Hamerschmidt.

"The disease is highly contagious," warned Hamschmidt, and "treacherous because the first symptoms only appear eight days after the infection." During the incubation period, however, it was already possible that other people had already contracted the infected person. People born after 1970 are particularly at risk. These people should absolutely check whether their vaccination protection still exists. The family doctor can answer all questions. If vaccination protection is no longer available, it should be repeated under certain circumstances. "You have to be vaccinated twice against measles, once is not enough," explained the doctor. Anyone born before 1970 has a much lower risk of developing measles. Because either people have already been vaccinated or have already had measles.

However, the four newly diagnosed measles cases make health authorities listen. "We fear that the disease could spread to the population," warns Dr. Hamerschmidt. The authorities have already informed people who are known to have been in contact with those who are already ill. If symptoms are noticed, a doctor should always be consulted, says the head of the Lübeck health office.

In most cases, those affected by measles do not notice any symptoms at first. Only after eight days after the infection do the patients develop a very high fever and chills. Many initially assume that they have seasonal flu because the rash that is typical for the disease does not appear until a few days later. However, measles should not be taken lightly. In some cases, life-threatening complications such as pneumonia or brain infections are threatened.

There have been several major measles outbreaks in the past ten years. In 2005, a total of 223 people fell ill in Hessen, one person died from the consequences of the disease. In 2007 there were again two measles outbreaks in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Bavaria. Last year in 2010 there was an outbreak of measles at a Waldorf school in Essen and at a clinic in Bavaria.

Hardly any therapy options
There is still no effective administration of drugs against the virus. Above all, patients must adhere to bed rest and protection during the illness. Antipyretic agents or cough syrup, for example, are only used to reduce the symptoms. Because the fever produces an increased fluid requirement, sufferers should drink a lot of water and tea. Some studies have shown that the administration of vitamin A has a beneficial effect on recovery. However, it is not yet known what vitamin administration does, so the Robert Koch Institute does not recommend such vitamin therapy for measles. (sb)

Also read:
Measles also affects adults

Image: Gerd Altmann / pixelio.de

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