German health officials in the Nordrhein-Westfalen area are urging
parents who have not already done so to have their children immunized
against the measles in the wake of a recent spike in the numbers of
school-age children contracting the disease in that region.
“Although more than 1,000 cases of measles have been reported in the
affected area, no cases have been reported in the U.S. beneficiary
population, said Dr. (Lt. Col.) William Corr, preventive medicine
consultant, Europe Regional Medical Command. “This is likely due
to the fact that there are no large concentrations of U.S.
beneficiaries in the Nordrhein-Westfalen area and the extensive number
of beneficiaries who have been vaccinated against measles.”
Childhood immunizations are not administered as universally within the
German population as they are in the United States and Department of
Defense Dependents schools, Corr pointed out.
According to a report on Eurosurveillance.org, a not-for-profit web
site for sharing medical information among European countries, only 25
of the patients seen had been immunized (less than 2.5 percent).
“Measles is a highly contagious disease, but is prevented through
vaccination and other countermeasures,” said Corr, who is on staff at
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. “All military health care
beneficiaries should take this as a reminder to keep their shots up to
According to the Center for Disease Control web site, measles symptoms
begin to appear about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus.
The infected person first experiences a fever lasting about two to four
days that can peak as high as 103 degrees F to 105 degrees F.
This is followed by the onset of cough, runny nose, and/or
conjunctivitis (pink eye). The rash usually appears about 14 days
after exposure and lasts five to six days.
It begins at the hairline, and then involves the face and upper
neck. Over the next three days, the rash gradually proceeds
downward and outward, reaching the hands and feet.
The Nordrhein-Westfalen state is just north of Rheinland-Pfalz, the
German state that is host to major American military communities.
Those include Wiesbaden and the KMC, the largest concentration of
American military members outside the U.S. (Courtesy of the Europe
Regional Medical Command Public Affairs Office)