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Measles: Not a harmless childhood disease
Most people regard measles as a so-called childhood disease. In mid-April, a 25-year-old man in Wales died from the consequences of his measles disease. And in Germany, a particularly large number of adult Berliners are currently suffering from it.
Over 100 people in Berlin fall ill At first, symptoms such as headache, runny nose, cough and fever appear. This leads to conjunctivitis and a considerably weakened general condition. You could wrongly assume a severe cold. The typical red skin spots on the whole body only appear after a few days. Measles, caused by the measles virus, is a highly contagious infectious disease that mainly occurs in children. However, adults are also affected, as is currently the case in Berlin, where there are over 100 sufferers. Dorothea Matysiak-Klose from the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin said: "We have a really big outbreak in Berlin at the moment." She went on to say: "Every day there are new cases, people are getting infected everywhere in the city, some of them have even been hospitalized. Over half of those affected are over 18 years old. " In comparison, there were only 166 reported measles cases in the entire period last year. Although, according to a recommendation from the Standing Vaccination Committee, everyone should be vaccinated against it at the age of two, the typical childhood disease is spreading in adults.
Communicable only from person to person Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease and spreads quickly from person to person. It can be diagnosed by detecting antibodies in the blood. There is no specific therapy against it. Measles is harmless neither in children nor in adults, fever and a weakened immune system due to the virus attack can lead to middle ear or even meningitis. In Europe, on average, one in 3000 people die. The situation in Berlin doesn't seem to be that dramatic at the moment. However, 30 percent of the sick were treated in clinics. An unusual number of young people and young adults have contracted the virus. "In addition, the outbreak is not limited to one district, but has spread throughout the city," said Matysiak-Klose. Experts from the Berlin State Health Office and the National Reference Center for Measles, Mumps and Rubella have now identified the origin of the disease: a fruit fair in February, even if the measles virus is highly contagious, it could be eradicated, since the virus is only found in humans, it would be possible to eradicate it by vaccinating everyone on earth.
Eradication of measles as a goal The World Health Organization (WHO) has set itself the goal of eradicating measles, experts call this "eradication", the complete elimination of a pathogen. After aiming to eliminate the disease from the European Region by 2010 since 1984, it was named 2015 as a new date after the failure. While it is still uncertain whether this goal can be achieved, other results are hopeful. With Pan America, another WHO region already managed to become measles-free ten years ago. Back then, no one on the American continents fell ill with endemic measles for twelve months, that is, measles that were not introduced by travelers. This is justified by health experts with the rigorous vaccination policy in the USA and in many other countries in North, Central and South America. So "the vaccination against measles must be proven at school, otherwise the child will not be admitted to school". In Europe there are actually many successes but also setbacks, as is currently the case in Berlin. Or in our neighborhood, as Matysiak-Klose explains: "There was also a major setback in France: Until 2009, there were hardly any people with measles there." But in 2010 and 2011, 30,000 people fell ill in Europe, with clear symptoms Focus on France: The reason for the epidemic was recognized to be that too few people were vaccinated.
Vaccinations would help Epidemiologists have calculated that a vaccination coverage with two vaccinations is needed by 95 percent of the population to stop the spread of measles. Even if one or two out of 100 people are not vaccinated, there is little chance that the disease will break out. However, if more people are not vaccinated, the risk of an outbreak of the disease increases enormously. The Robert Koch Institute states that in Saxony, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, less than 90 percent of freshmen are vaccinated twice against measles. In addition, data from the Standing Vaccination Commission and the Child and Adolescent Health Survey show that children in Germany are often vaccinated too late. Of the children who were born in 2009, only in Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein had a vaccination rate of 95 percent been achieved with the first vaccine dose, according to data from a survey recently published in “Epidemiological Bulletin ”have been published. Children two years old should have already received both of the required vaccine doses.
Vaccination gaps among those born after 1970 How is it possible that not all people are vaccinated in Germany and Europe? The two vaccination doses that are needed cost less than one euro. The vaccine is safe and there are vaccination plans that require children to be vaccinated twice until they are two years old. The expert from the Robert Koch Institute explains: "The vaccination rate in Germany is actually relatively high." And further: "But in 2001 the vaccination recommendations for Germany were revised. The second vaccination that children until then had received at the age of six to eight was was brought up to the age of just under two years, which caused some vintages to fall through the cracks. " This reduced the rate of immunized older children and the 95 percent rule was no longer met. The current outbreak in Berlin shows that obviously many young adults are without adequate protection. It is therefore recommended that people who were born after 1970 and who do not know whether they had measles as a child or whether they have been vaccinated twice are vaccinated.
Religious reasons and a lying doctor against vaccinations Günter Pfaff from the State Health Office in Baden-Württemberg recognized another problem when examining the vaccination rate at community level: the opponents of vaccination. He explained: "A comparison: In the south of the Netherlands there is the so-called 'Bible belt', a region in which many followers of strictly reformed churches live. The rejection of vaccinations for reasons of faith is very high - and the vaccination rate against measles is correspondingly low. We don't have such regions in Germany. ”He also added:“ But there are communities within the country that have a relatively low measles vaccination rate. The causes of low vaccination rates can be different. There may be communities in which an alternative view of conventional medicine plays a role or in which doctors are still following an outdated vaccination plan. We still have to investigate exactly why it is in the individual case. "Not yet concluding, he says:" So far we have only hypotheses on this. " The example of the Netherlands shows what effect the prevailing attitudes in individual municipalities could have on the epidemiological events in the whole country. According to estimates, 30 percent of the strictly reformed people there are not vaccinated and so there was a measles epidemic among them in 1999. Another reason for the negative attitude towards measles vaccinations is seen in a medical scandal in 1998.
The British doctor Andrew J. Wakefield warned at the time in The Lancet that the combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine could trigger autism. Years later it became known that Wakefield had received £ 55,000 in funding from lawyers representing autistic children. The publication in "The Lancet" was withdrawn and Wakefield was banned from working in 2010. Since then, many studies have shown that vaccination cannot trigger autism. However, according to the Wakefield study, the vaccination rate fell drastically, especially in Great Britain and Ireland, and there are now many in a generation of young people in which the virus can spread. Both countries are still struggling with measles, partly because of the falsified data of a corrupt doctor.
Responsibility for doctors Although skepticism about vaccination persists in some circles in Germany, it should not be a major problem. Matysiak-Klose says: "About one to two percent of the population in Germany are real opponents of vaccination" and further "But if all non-vaccine opponents are vaccinated against measles, that is enough to eliminate the disease." This effect is called "herd immunity" by doctors. What is meant is that if there are enough people who are immune to a pathogen, it rarely finds too few people in whom it can reproduce. The epidemiologists speak of the 95 percent rule. Whether or not the WHO goal of eradicating the disease by 2015 will be achieved by Germany and Europe. “For example, in some districts there are only a few pediatricians. If they do not take measles vaccination seriously, the virus can survive in this region, ”said Matysiak-Klose. A virus reservoir can then form in these areas and outbreaks could occur. This is not only a problem for Europe, but also for the rest of the world, since the virus can easily be spread to other countries. Germany is also considered a measles exporter. ("") This can have devastating consequences, especially in poorer regions of the world. Every year, 100,000 people worldwide still die from measles, a disease that could already be eradicated by vaccination. (sb)
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