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First infection in 20 years: Measles imported from Germany to Guatemala


Guatemalan woman carries measles from Germany to her home country

During a stay in Germany, a young woman from Guatemala contracted measles and brought the disease to her home country. It is the first measles case in 20 years in the Central American country. The Ministry of Health has now taken extensive protective measures.

The number of measles cases has increased

Health experts recently reported an increasing number of measles cases in Germany. The infectious disease has been on the decline since the measles vaccination was introduced around 40 years ago, but the measles eradication has been slowed down again and again. It is to blame that there is not enough vaccination in this country. The disease is said to be eliminated when at least 95 percent of the population has been vaccinated, the virus can no longer spread and there are fewer than one case per million inhabitants per year. In Guatemala, this goal was achieved 20 years ago, where the disease was considered to be eradicated. But now there is another measles case in the Central American country - imported from Germany.

Disease introduced from Germany to Guatemala

Guatemala has been free of measles since 1998. A measles case has been reported for the first time in the Central American country after two decades.

According to media reports, a 17-year-old woman from Guatemala was infected with the highly contagious virus while traveling to Germany.

As the Guatemala Ministry of Health wrote in a statement, the young woman was free from symptoms a few days ago when she returned to her home country.

Therefore, there is no risk that the patient infected other people during the flight or at the airport.

Protection of the population

According to the information, it has now been confirmed that the 17-year-old has measles. The Ministry of Health has taken extensive protective measures after the diagnosis.

It is said that all students and teachers who attend the same school in Guatemala City as the sick are vaccinated.

The patient's family, neighbors, medical staff and patients with whom she may have had contact should also receive the vaccination.

In addition, other parents were also asked to have their children vaccinated.

Not a harmless childhood illness

Even in Germany, health experts never tire of calling for vaccinations.

Some people still dismiss measles as a harmless childhood disease. But the infectious disease also affects adults.

Almost a thousand people fell ill in Germany last year.

Measles is highly contagious. The disease is transmitted via a droplet infection. It starts with flu-like symptoms such as high fever, cough and runny nose. The characteristic rash follows later.

In general, measles weakens the immune system. As a result, bronchitis, otitis media or pneumonia can occur. In rare cases, the infection can be fatal.

The disease is particularly dangerous in infants and young children.

Discussions about vaccination

In connection with the infectious disease, there is a lot of discussion about a possible measles vaccination in Germany. In Italy, such was introduced by law last year.

A majority of Germans would welcome vaccination, but numerous experts are against it. They prefer education rather than vaccination.

In Germany measles vaccination is recommended for children from the eleventh month of life, for infants in a day care center from the ninth month.

Adults should also check their measles vaccination protection if necessary.

A single vaccination against measles is generally recommended for all adults who were born after 1970 and who have not been vaccinated against measles at all or only once during childhood or whose vaccination status is unclear, explains the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on its website.

"People who were born before 1970 are very likely to have had measles," said the experts. (ad)

Author and source information

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