Written by Staff Writer
A map of the densely populated and overcrowded Berlin-Brandenburg border in the federal state of Brandenburg.
Berlin is experiencing an alarming uptick in the number of measles cases reported across the city. The latest numbers reported by the German federal police reveal that since the beginning of the year:
There have been 368 measles cases in Berlin, compared to 17 in 2016
There have been 15 cases in eastern Berlin, compared to zero in 2016
Only 15 cases in western Berlin, compared to 7.6 million in 2016
There have been 33 cases in the state of Brandenburg, which borders on the city of Berlin, compared to 26 cases in 2016
Of the 38 cases reported last week, 44% were not vaccinated for measles. Out of 40 measles cases across Germany, 10 were unvaccinated, according to the Georg Derptpaglinó Institute.
Dr. Cornelia Offenberger, who treated one of the patients at Berlin’s Charité hospital, told Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper that it was “the first such case I’ve had.”
“I’m deeply worried,” she said. “I’m an epidemiologist; I know how contagious it is.”
Image caption Children being vaccinated against polio in India
The city of Berlin is in the midst of a vaccine shortage, with plans to vaccinate its citizens to prevent a new outbreak.
This is the fourth measles outbreak in the city since 2014. In recent months, the number of unvaccinated children in the city has hit its highest levels in more than a decade.
City authorities are restricting unvaccinated children from attending special events like football matches and concerts at music venues until further notice.
Berlin — and the rest of Germany — are struggling to cope with measles, as the outbreak has broken out in densely populated areas with higher concentrations of children.
Measles is highly contagious. The virus, which lives inside the body, spreads through coughing and sneezing. A child can become infected with measles in less than 10 minutes without falling ill. The virus then often stays dormant in the body for months or years.
In cases where the disease is severe enough, people can become unwell and even die. Measles kills an estimated 33 children in Europe each year, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
At least eight cases of measles were reported in the eastern state of Saxony last week. These cases occurred in municipalities close to the Russian border.
The area borders on an area in northern Russia that has also seen outbreaks in recent months. More than 400 cases of measles have been reported in western Russia since the beginning of April.
The outbreak in Russia has been put down to unvaccinated children living near Moscow and close to parts of the Caucasus, Putin’s native region.
There has also been an increase in measles cases in Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Eliana Becker, CNN