Health professionals are worried because vaccination rates have dropped.  Photo: AP Foto:
Health professionals are worried because vaccination rates have dropped. Photo: AP Foto:

The three cases are linked to three other cases identified in May. “Since June 9, we’ve been treating three new patients. All of them have been in contact with those who caught the disease in May. One of the new patients is a doctor who treated one of the first patients, the second patient is a nurse, and the third patient is a female relative of a baby who caught the disease in May,” Karl Turk of NIJZ said.

The doctor and the nurse caught the disease at the pediatric department of the Maribor University Medical Center. The nurse had received a measles shot in the past and was given another dose of the vaccine after coming into contact with the baby in late May.

The doctor received both shots before coming into contact with the sick baby. “Immunologists believe that this is due to cellular deficiency. Some people don't react to vaccines. We call them non-responders. Some people can contract the disease even though they are fully vaccinated. Such cases are extremely rare, though,” said Turk.

The third new patient, a woman, is a relative of the first patient that brought the disease to Maribor in May (a 38-year-old man who had returned from a trip to Serbia). It is not known whether she had been vaccinated against measles. “The woman comes from Macedonia. We’ve tried to get hold of her vaccination records, but we haven’t had any success so far,” said Turk. In May, doctors treated three measles patients: the 38-year-old unvaccinated man, the baby, and a 40-year-old man.

Last weekend, NIJZ tried to find out who had been in contact with the doctor and the nurse. They identified more than 300 people, but all of them had been vaccinated. “However, many of them only received one shot,” said Turk. Since measles exists in many countries, NIJZ advises people to check whether they are protected against the disease before travelling abroad: “Anyone who isn’t immunized against measles can get sick.

Those who aren’t absolutely sure that they have received two measles shots should get vaccinated before making their trip. The second dose must be given at least one month after the first.