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More and more people get measles in Germany
A remarkable number of people develop measles this year. The Federal Ministry of Health said 1,542 cases had been reported in September. That is about ten times as many measles sufferers as last year. According to the Federal Government, the cause is "insufficient vaccination protection". Many doctors therefore call for the introduction of a so-called compulsory vaccination.
Measles can cause disease Around ten times as many people have measles this year than last year. In 2012, only 165 cases were registered nationwide. However, experts point out that the figures are generally subject to strong fluctuations. In 2001, 6,000 people suffered from the infectious disease, 2,300 citizens in 2006, but only 780 in 2010. There are different reasons why the number of sufferers shows such fluctuations. In this context, many experts criticize the lack of vaccination protection against measles. Many parents stopped having their children vaccinated for fear of unwanted side effects from vaccination.
Measles can cause life-threatening diseases. Older and immunodeficient people in particular often suffer from severe illnesses, for example with pneumonia. But measles infection can also be life-threatening in healthy, young people. So-called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is particularly dangerous. The generalized inflammation of the brain with nerve demarking causes the most serious damage, which inevitably leads to the death of the patient. SSPE has a long incubation period of several years. One of the first signs of the disease is the loss of brain nerve cells, which is manifested by psychological and intellectual changes and dropouts. Epileptic seizures and failures of important nerve functions are added as the disease progresses until the patient dies.
Discussion about measles vaccination never stops Bavaria is currently the frontrunner among the federal states with 711 measles cases. Many measles sufferers were also registered in Berlin (487 cases) and North Rhine-Westphalia (122 cases), as the ministry said, citing the Robert Koch Institute.
So far, the only effective protection against the infectious disease is vaccination. Between the eleventh and 23rd month of life, children are to be vaccinated twice against measles, mumps and rubella, according to official recommendations. All adults born after 1970 are advised to have a single measles vaccination. However, for fear of possible side effects, many parents do not allow their children to be vaccinated against measles. This is particularly problematic when the child who is not vaccinated falls ill and comes into contact with young children who are too young to be vaccinated or with other people who are not vaccinated.
Only recently, Federal Minister of Health Daniel Bahr (FDP) announced an amendment to the Infection Protection Act, according to which non-vaccinated schoolchildren can be temporarily released from school in the event of an outbreak of measles. So far, this regulation only applies to sick children. Another measure could be to query the child's vaccination protection as soon as they are admitted to kindergarten by the health authorities. According to Bahr, compulsory vaccination is the last resort.
According to a current Emnid survey commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Health, 78 percent of Germans rate measles infection as dangerous. The official recommendations for measles vaccination are only 48 percent known. (ag)