Girl dies 12 years after measles infection

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A 13-year-old girl dies of measles complication after 12 years

A 13-year-old girl died of complications from a measles infection in Bad Salzuflen in North Rhine-Westphalia. At the age of less than one year, the girl had been infected with the measles virus, according to the treating doctors, and subsequently suffered from chronic measles inflammation of the brain (SSPE). Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, as the secondary illness is called, is a rare complication after a measles infection, which causes inflammation of the brain with the most severe damage to the nerve tract. To date, the exact origin of the secondary disease has not been conclusively clarified. It is suspected that mutations in the virus play an important role.

Late consequence of a measles infection
The disease usually only occurs months or years after a measles infection. The average disease rate is seven years. However, the course is slow until then, which is why the infectious disease is one of the "slow virus infections". In the first stage, dementia-like conditions can be observed. In the second phase, muscle cramps and epileptic seizures are added. In the third stage of the disease, the brain is already severely damaged, and those affected usually fall into a coma. The disease is considered incurable and almost always fatal. However, the frequency of occurrence is very rare. In the medical literature, an approximate complication rate of 1 in 10,000 measles infections is given. However, the cases have decreased significantly since the introduction of measles vaccination since 1980, as the overall infection rate decreased

The little patient started suffering in 1999. According to the parents, the girl became infected at the age of six months in a pediatrician. "A boy was being treated there for measles," the mother told the press. The dreaded measles-brain inflammation developed in the course of the disease. “One day Natalie had a fever and cough. Then she was healthy again, a normal, happy child, ”reported the mother. In the third grade, the girl suddenly had difficulty concentrating. The doctors in the clinic said to the parents that they could no longer help the child, that there were no more treatment options. So they took the child home. In the later course, the little girl grew weaker and eventually fell into a coma. A few days ago she died of severe organ failure.

Secondary disease mostly occurs in children and adolescents The SSPE most often occurs in children and adolescents who have had measles before the age of two. "The only protection is preventive vaccination," said Martin Terhardt from the professional association of pediatricians. The doctor is also a member of the Standing Committee on Vaccination at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which makes vaccination recommendations to parents and doctors in Germany. However, children can only be vaccinated against measles on the 12th month of life. Until then, to protect babies, they should grow up in a so-called “vaccinated” environment. This means that parents and siblings should already be vaccinated.

Infection rate in Germany The infection rate in Germany fluctuates from year to year. A total of 780 measles cases were reported to the Robert Koch Institute in 2010. By September 1564 children and adults had already been infected with the viral infection in 2011. A particularly high rate of illness is currently reported in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Measles is a highly contagious disease, emphasizes pediatrician Günther Dettweiler. "If an infected person speaks, coughs or sneezes and an unvaccinated person comes into contact with the droplets, an infection is very likely." The doctor gives a clear refusal to the so-called "measles parties": Such meetings between parents and children are "absolute." irresponsible. ”Parents organize such“ parties ”so that the children can get infected and experience measles at an early stage. Such meetings are usually organized by opponents of vaccination who primarily criticize possible vaccine risks and want to create an immunity in a“ natural way ”. Because measles in adulthood often shows more severe symptoms.

Child welfare demands extensive vaccination laws
In view of the tragic case of the deceased Nathalie, Deutsche Kinderhilfe calls for a legal obligation to vaccinate the children. The association believes that kindergartens and schools should only take in children if they can demonstrate vaccination. The tragic case "refutes ideological opponents of vaccination, anthroposophists and representatives of natural pediatrics who dismiss measles as a harmless childhood disease," said the chairman of the children's aid, Georg Ehrmann.

To this day measles vaccinations are controversial due to the possible side effects. It is generally proven that fever, fatigue, headache and redness, pain and swelling at the injection site can occur after vaccinations. In individual cases, however, serious vaccination complications such as pronounced allergic reactions can also appear. It is suspected that brain inflammation or a drop in the number of platelets can also occur. However, the cases observed are very rare and causality is a hot topic among researchers and medical professionals.

The death rate and thus the complication rate is relatively low. In Germany, a total of two people died of measles this year. In addition to the girl, a 26-year-old died in a Munich clinic of the consequences of the disease. The Federal Statistical Office reports that an average of one to two deaths occur in Germany each year. (sb)

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WHO: Measles increase in Europe
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