Numerous measles cases in Salzburg
Austria - An unusually high number of measles cases is currently causing concern amongst the public as well as health officials. Presumed to have originated in a private school in Salzburg, increasing numbers of cases were being reported at the end of March and beginning of April.
In the Salzburg area alone, over 180 cases were reported within a few days; isolated cases were also reported across the border in Bavaria, in Upper Austria and in Burgenland. Rumours that the disease may have been spread through ‘measles parties’, where healthy pupils and those struck down by the disease meet intentionally to contract measles, have not been confirmed.
Due to the long incubation period (10-14 days) a further spread cannot be ruled out, particularly because one of the infected pupils took part in a billiard tournament with 120 participants. In the affected areas, particularly in nurseries and schools, healthcare officials organised a comprehensive vaccination programme and raised measles awareness via the media. Pharmacies have ordered sufficient supplies of vaccines and offer the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination at reduced rates.
Although MMR vaccination is recommended for all Austrian children, uptake is currently only around 90%. As a person infected with measles can infect an average of 15 unprotected people, the debate around compulsory vaccinations has been fuelled again.
There is currently no medicinal therapy against the virus.
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