Immunization could have prevented fatal measles outbreak in Germany
2 February 2009 | Geneva - A recent measles outbreak in Germany has highlighted the need for vaccination reminders and better information for parents, according to research published today in the international public health journal, the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.
A study of the outbreak in the German city of Duisburg found that at least 80% of 614 measles cases in 2006 were reported as “unvaccinated”. The main reasons given were that parents either forgot to take their children to be vaccinated or rejected the vaccine, for various reasons including the mistaken belief that it was dangerous.
Even in countries with good health services, measles can be very serious, particularly in young children, according to Dr Peter Strebel from the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at the World Health Organization. “Measles still causes an estimated 197 000 deaths each year around the world, the majority of them children under the age of five. Parents and doctors need to be reminded that measles is a highly contagious disease. Even healthy and well-nourished children, if unvaccinated, are at risk of measles and its complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis and, although rare, death.”
As a result of the outbreak in Germany, two children died of encephalitis and 95 were hospitalized.
For further information, please contact:
Dr Peter Strebel
Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
Tel. Office.: +41 22 791 1338
Media contact: Ms Hayatee Hasan
Tel.: +41 22 791 2103
Dr Ole Wichmann (co-author of study)
Robert Koch-Institut, Berlin, Germany
Ms Fiona Fleck
News Editor Bulletin of the World Health Organization Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 791 1897
Mobile: +41 78 678 9079
Ms Sarah Cumberland
Tel. Office: +44 22 791 32 64
Mobile: +33 6 31 66 60 32