Measles: How Parents Can Protect Their Children

Measles: How to Protect Your Child

24.02.2015

The measles outbreak in Berlin is currently making headlines nationwide after a first death has been reported. The fear of being infected is becoming more and more widespread. Here you can find out how you can protect yourself and your children from measles.

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Do not dismiss measles as a childhood disease
In view of the measles wave that is currently rampant in Berlin, more and more people are worried. There are not only many sick people, but also a first death: a small child died after being infected with measles. Health experts warn to dismiss the infectious disease as a childhood disease. And politicians argue about compulsory vaccination. It is known that the disease is highly contagious. In a message from the dpa news agency, important information about measles was collected. For example, how you can protect yourself from it and whether a vaccination is still worthwhile.

Infected people are contagious even before the rash develops
You can get infected very quickly. The viruses are transmitted from person to person by droplets, for example when coughing, sneezing or speaking. If a person is not vaccinated against measles, almost every contact leads to infection, even from a distance of several meters. It should be noted that infected people are contagious five days before the typical rash occurs. After flu-like symptoms such as a high fever, cough and runny nose, the rash follows days later and the fever rises again. The rash will then go away after four days.

Serious consequential damage is possible
In general, measles weakens the immune system. This can lead to bronchitis, otitis media or pneumonia, among other things. In rare cases, encephalitis can also be the result. Up to 20 percent of those affected die from it. And in almost a third, severe consequential damage such as intellectual disabilities or paralysis remains. Unfortunately, there is no therapy against measles. It is only possible to treat signs of illness such as fever. Antibiotics are basically ineffective against viral diseases.

After vaccination, you are not immediately immune
People who get vaccinated against measles are not immediately immune to the disease. As Professor Thomas Löscher, head of the Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine at the University of Munich's Clinic, explains according to the agency, it will take about ten to 14 days until then. In addition, the expert explains that people who have had contact with an infected person can still be vaccinated up to three days later, because that way there is more of a chance of not getting sick.

Adults should also check the vaccination statute
Some vaccination rules must be observed. For example, babies should be vaccinated for the first time at the age of eleven to 14 months. If the child is to go to daycare, this can also be earlier. The second vaccination can be given four weeks after the first and should be given between 15 and 23 months of age. The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) also recommends adolescents and adults to check their protection and, if the vaccination status is unclear, to catch up on immunization if necessary. If you are unsure, you should contact your doctor.

Lifelong protection after illness
They are usually vaccinated with a triple vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). You are only immune to the virus if you have been vaccinated twice. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), lifelong protection is then assumed. In addition, those who have had measles before are immune to it for the rest of their lives. The number of registered measles cases has fluctuated greatly in recent years. For example, in 2001 there were over 6,000 illnesses in Germany, in 2012 only 165 and in 2013 again 1,769. (ad)

Image: Steffen Bernard, Wiki

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