Up until 25 years ago the measles were endemic all over the world and almost 100% of all children had undergone them. Today, as a result of relatively high vaccination rates world wide (according to the WHO not high enough) there are only smaller outbreaks sporadically.
The opinion persists in the general population that children’s disease are useful for the development of the child’s health, particularly measles. Vaccinated children contract allergic diseases much more frequently than children who have not been vaccinated. This was also shown in a trial that was published by Lancet: Having undergone measles may reduce propensity towards allergies later in life (Shaheen SO, Aaby P, Hall AJ, Barker DJ, Heyes CB, Shiell AW, Goudiaby A.Measles and atopy in Guinea-Bissau.Lancet 1996 Jun 29;347(9018):1792-6).
Up until the 60s the Children’s Clinic Basel treated children with nephrotic syndrome (a serious renal disease) by infecting them with the measles. It had been determined that children healed spontaneously after they had had the measles. Children who live in the Third World who have had the measles are less susceptible to contracting parasites and malaria (Rooth IB. Supression of plasmodium falciparum infections during measles or influenza. Am J Trop Med Hyg 1992;47(5):675-81.)
5.780 cases of the measles were registered in 2001 (preliminary number). It can be assumed that the number of actual diseases will be much higher due to the fact that a large number of infections are not treated by doctors and on the other hand not every infection that has been treated by a doctor is actually reported by the doctor. It is assumed that in the present immunity situation every year there are between 20,000 and 80,000 cases of measles if there is not a marked epidemic situation. (RKI)
The WHO wants to eradicate the measles. The low vaccination rates in African countries will prevent this from happening which means that a vaccination rate of 95% as demanded by the WHO for eradication will never be achieved.
What is problematic is the fact that despite the high vaccination rates in the population the measles virus continues to circulate in the population (Damien B, Huiss S, Schneider F, Muller : Estimated susceptibility to asymptomatic secondary immune response against measles in late convalescent and vaccinated persons.CP.J Med Virol 1998 Sep;56(1):85-90 )
Approx. 500,000 die of the measles every year in Africa. The high death rate is due mainly to the fact that the children are undernourished and have a high rate of tuberculosis. The mortality rate for undernourished children is at least 400 times higher than that of children who live in normal social situations (Nightingale M., 1999, Epoch 81/82).
Mass vaccinations against the measles are probably the reason why respiratory diseases from RS viruses (related to the measles virus) in children and related hospital admissions have increased significantly in the last few years. In countries where the measles vaccination rates are not as high the susceptibility for severe respiratory diseases in children which necessitate being admitted to a hospital are much, much lower. (A. I. Weigl1,2, W. Puppe1, O. Belke1, J. Neusüß1, F. Bagci, H. J. Schmitt,The Descriptive Epidemiology of Severe Lower Respiratory Tract Infections in Children in Kiel, Germany, Klin Padiatr 2005; 217: 259-267)
Sources: The pictures were taken from an article on measles in Wikipedia and are listed under GNU-Lizenz für freie Dokumentation. This site also contains a list of the authors.