from Sonja Krause | 10.30 am, 21 August 2018
62 cases in Austria, 41,000 infected people across Europe: the World Health Organization (WHO) reports alarming figures about the situation with measles in Europe. So far, 37 people have died from measles – again proving that measles are not innocent childhood diseases. The Ministry of Health also reports major outbreaks in Europe for Greece, Romania, France and Italy. If someone is planning to travel to these countries, one has to check whether someone is vaccinated enough, the ministry advises.
The most contagious disease
Measles are the most contagious disease known: if you come into contact with an infected person and you are not vaccinated, you are more than 99 percent infected. "A measles runner can infect 16 to 18 other people, with the flu, there are four infections", says infection specialist Andrea Grisold (Med Uni Graz).
The measles are deadly one of the 1000 cases: It can lead to inflammation of the brain, explains Werner Zenz, a pediatrician at the LKH University Hospital Graz. This is lethal in 20 percent, 30 percent of those affected remain disabled. Or it can be a lung failure, which can be fatal. The measles also have a feared after-effect that chronic encephalitis (SSPE). It only comes six to eight years after measles disease to the breakdown in the brain, which is always deadly.
Since the beginning of 2018 large outbreaks of measles are mowed in the EU, with the highest numbers Romania (4317) France (2588) Greece (2238) Italy (1,716) and Britain (1,654).
There are also small outbreaks Belgium (50), the Czech Republic (103) Germany (286) Ireland (69) Latvia (17) Norway (7) Poland (54) Portugal (125) Slovakia (161) and Sweden (29).
"There is no causal treatment for measles," says Zenz. The only protection is the double vaccination, which is administered from the age of 10 months. In particular, risk groups are infants who can not yet be vaccinated.
Of course there is a risk that the measles from other countries are introduced.
Werner Zenz, pediatrician
The first signs of measles are non-specific: fever, red eyes, runny nose. Only after 14 days does the typical skin rash occur. "If there is a case of measles in Austria, every doctor must report it," says Grisold. Then all persons who have been in contact with the patient are followed – and checked for their vaccine protection.
The fact that the measles have still not been eradicated is due to the low rate of vaccination: 95 percent of people have to be vaccinated, but there are large vaccination gapsespecially among the years 2008 to 2010 and adults born in the 1990s. In addition, a third of 15-30 year olds were not vaccinated for the second time – even though the vaccine is available to everyone free of charge.
A scientific study on the outbreak of measles in Styria in 2015 shows that they are the immunization opponents responsible for the spread of measles: 82 percent of the affected children were not vaccinated because of the immature attitude of their parents. The victims were ten infants from families who had not been vaccinated but had to be admitted to the hospital.