Measles wave: No end to the outbreak in sight

Measles wave: No end to the outbreak in sight

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Number of new measles infections in Berlin remains at a high level

After more than 900 infections were recorded in the course of the measles epidemic in Berlin, there is great concern about further outbreaks in other federal states. In Thuringia, for example, the number of new infections reported has increased significantly recently. The current measles outbreak in Berlin is considered by experts to be one of the largest in Germany in the past ten years.

"The number of new cases of measles in the 13th reporting week remained high at 56 cases," said the State Office for Health and Social Affairs (LAGeSo) in Berlin. A total of 961 cases have been reported since the outbreak began (41st reporting week 2014), of which 840 this year. Although the number of new cases was slightly below the level of the previous weeks, the experts do not expect the outbreak to end soon. Other federal states such as Bavaria, Saxony or Thuringia have also recorded increasing numbers of cases in recent weeks - albeit at a significantly lower level than in Berlin.

Numerous new infections at an Erfurt school "The cause of the sharp increase in diseases in Thuringia is the outbreak of measles in an Erfurt school," according to the Thuringian Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Health, Women and Family. A large proportion (94 percent) of the schoolchildren affected were not vaccinated, according to the Ministry. Almost two thirds of the 80 measles cases reported in Thuringia since the end of February are due to illnesses at the non-state school in Erfurt. In Berlin, however, the number of weekly new infections reported to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) was higher than the number of infections registered in other federal states since the beginning of the year.

Calls for measles vaccination In Berlin, the health authorities are trying to counteract the further spread of measles with information and calls to close existing vaccine gaps. Because the largest number of cases of illness continues to occur among adults who do not have vaccination protection. In theory, they could easily protect themselves and thus also prevent others from transmitting the pathogen. Here, for example, children under the age of one would particularly benefit, who according to the LAGeSo cannot yet have vaccination protection. In the course of the current measles outbreak, they are the most frequently affected child among children.

A quarter of those infected have to go to the hospital, citing the Berlin health senator Mario Czaja (CDU), reports that parents have recently been vaccinated against measles at the pediatrician and gynecologists can give the accompanying men a vaccination. In the sense of an uncomplicated closing of the vaccine gaps, these new possibilities were created. So far, the doctors could not have billed for a corresponding vaccination. According to the RKI, 234 (24 percent) of measles cases in Berlin have been informed that those affected had to be treated in hospital due to the illness. One child had died of measles. Of 882 patients with the information available, 769 (87 percent) had no vaccination protection.

Signs of measles infection According to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), measles is initially characterized by symptoms such as high fever, cough and runny nose and inflammation in the nasopharynx and conjunctiva. A few days later, the typical rash develops, which begins on the face and behind the ears and then spreads over the whole body. An accompanying increase in fever was noted. Because measles temporarily weakens the immune system, other pathogens can be warded off more poorly and complications can easily arise, which are caused by additional pathogens, such as otitis media, respiratory tract infections or pneumonia.

Imminent complication with serious health consequences Brain inflammation should also be mentioned as a particularly feared complication of measles disease. According to the BZgA, this occurs in about one in 1,000 measles cases, with up to 30 percent of those affected suffering serious consequential damage such as intellectual disabilities or paralysis and ten to 20 percent of the patients dying from the consequences of brain inflammation. Very rarely, several years after a measles infection, a so-called SSPE (subacute sclerosing panencephalitis) can be determined, which forms a progressive inflammation of the brain and the nervous system and is always fatal. This particularly affects children who have measles in their first year of life, according to the BZgA. (fp)

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