According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), 140,000 people died of measles last year. Most of them are children under the age of five. In a long-term comparison, the number of fatalities has decreased: in 2000, 535,000 people died of the disease. However, the trend is confirmed that the number of measles death tolls has increased again in recent years. According to the WHO estimates, there were around 16,000 more measles scores in 2018 than in 2017.
Similar to the death toll, the estimated infections, which have also risen again after a drastic decline, have changed recently. According to WHO estimates, there were almost 9.8 million cases of measles in 2018, almost 7.6 million a year earlier. As there is no reporting requirement in many countries, according to the WHO, only a fraction of measles cases are known.
"The fact that a child dies from a disease such as measles, which can be prevented by vaccination, is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the most vulnerable," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. According to the organization, vaccination rates have remained constant throughout the world over the past decade.
The WHO estimates that 86 percent of children receive a first vaccine, only 70 percent then the recommended second dose. According to WHO data, a vaccination coverage of 95 percent with two doses is needed in each country to protect the population from the disease.
More deaths from measles than Ebola
Especially common are measles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The authorities assume that more than 5,000 people have died of measles there alone - far more than in the Ebola outbreak since the summer of 2018, with around 2,200 deaths so far. The African states of Liberia, Madagascar and Somalia are also hit hard. But even in the Ukraine there was a major outbreak with almost 57,000 reported fiber cases. Almost half of all reported cases of measles are accounted for by these five states. Also in the USA - which was once free of measles - there are more measles diseases, the country has recorded more cases than it has in 25 years. Only last week, at least 53 people have died in a measles outbreak in the Polynesian island nation of Samoa.
One reason for the increasing number of measles diseases, according to the WHO, is too low a vaccination rate. Experts complain about gaps in the supply of vaccines. "Health systems are very weakened in some countries, and there are often gaps in the supply chain, especially measles vaccine," said Marcus Bachmann, who several times served as MDC for Médecins Sans Frontières. The measles vaccine also needs to be permanently refrigerated until administration, which is a major challenge in many countries.
According to Bachmann, especially in the Congo, the fight against Ebola is at the center, which also makes itself financially noticeable. "The local people can not understand this imbalance, they are worried about the measles, because they often kill their children," said Bachmann. For the coming year, there is a reason for optimism. The typical problems in some countries - bad surveillance and slow checking of new cases, lack of vaccinations and, in principle, insecurity due to conflicts - could not be solved "from today to tomorrow".
501 measles diseases in Germany
In Germany 501 measles cases were counted until November - in 2018 there were 528 cases. The numbers in Germany sway from year to year, however, very much. Over the past ten years, they have ranged between 165 and 2,465 cases per year.
For greater protection against the highly contagious disease, the Bundestag has adopted a law in November for a compulsory vaccination. It is scheduled to come into effect on March 1, 2020. Parents then need to be vaccinated before admission to Kitas or school records. For children who are already going to kindergarten or school, proof must be available by 31st July 2021. In the case of infringements, fines of up to 2,500 euros are imminent. The obligation to vaccinate should also apply to teachers and nurses as well as to staff in medical facilities.
Measles symptoms include a rash of the oral mucosa and characteristic brownish-brown skin patches. The infection temporarily weakens the immune system, making it more likely to cause otitis media, bronchitis, pneumonia or diarrhea. A particularly dreaded consequence is certain brain inflammations that can be fatal.