The Infectious Disease Epidemiology Annual Report — which was published on July 12, 2017 and provides data on the status of more than 50 infectious diseases in Germany during 2016 — offers the first glimpse into the public health consequences of the massive influx of migrants in late 2015.
The report shows increased incidences in Germany of leprosy, adenoviral conjunctivitis, botulism, chicken pox, cholera, cryptosporidiosis, dengue fever, echinococcosis, enterohemorrhagic E. coli, giardiasis, haemophilus influenza, Hantavirus, hepatitis, hemorrhagic fever, HIV/AIDS, louse-borne relapsing fever, malaria, measles, meningococcal disease, meningoencephalitis, mumps, paratyphoid, rubella, shigellosis, syphilis, toxoplasmosis, trichinellosis, tuberculosis, tularemia, typhus and whooping cough.
Germany has — so far at least — escaped the worst-case scenario: most of the tropical and exotic diseases brought into the country by migrants have been contained; there have no mass outbreaks among the general population. More common diseases, however, many of which are directly or indirectly linked to mass migration, are on the rise, according to the report.
The incidence of Hepatitis B, for example, has increased by 300% during the last three years, according to the RKI. The number of reported cases in Germany was 3,006 in 2016, up from 755 cases in 2014. Most of the cases are said to involve unvaccinated migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The incidence of measles in Germany jumped by more than 450% between 2014 and 2015, while the number of cases of chicken pox, meningitis, mumps, rubella and whooping cough were also up. Migrants also accounted for at least 40% of the new cases of HIV/AIDS identified in Germany since 2015, according to a separate RKI report.
The RKI statistics may be just the tip of the iceberg. The number of reported cases of tuberculosis, for example, was 5,915 in 2016, up from 4,488 cases in 2014, an increase of more than 30% during that period. Some doctors, however, believe that the actual number of cases of tuberculosis is far higher and have accused the RKI of downplaying the threat in an effort to avoid fueling anti-immigration sentiments.
In an interview with Focus, Carsten Boos, an orthopedic surgeon, warned that German authorities have lost track of hundreds of thousands of migrants who may be infected. He added that 40% of all tuberculosis pathogens are multidrug-resistant and therefore inherently dangerous to the general population:
"When asylum seekers come from countries with a high risk for tuberculosis infections, the RKI, as the highest German body for infection protection, should not downplay the danger. Is a federal institute using political correctness to conceal the unpleasant reality?
"The media reports that in 2015, the federal police registered about 1.1 million refugees. Around 700,000 to 800,000 applications for asylum were submitted and 300,000 refugees have disappeared. Have they been checked? Do they come from the high risk countries?German newspapers have published a flurry of articles about the public health dimension of the migrant crisis. The articles often quote medical professionals with first-hand experience of treating migrants. Many admit that mass migration has increased the risk of infectious diseases in Germany. Headlines include:
"One has the impression that in the RKI the left hand does not know what the right one is doing."
"Refugees Often Bring Unknown Diseases to the Host Country"; "Refugees Bring Rare Diseases to Berlin"; Refugees in Hesse: Return of Rare Diseases"; "Refugees Often Bring Unknown Diseases to Germany"; "Experts: Refugees Bring 'Forgotten' Diseases"; "Three Times More Hepatitis-B Cases in Bavaria"; "Cases of Tapeworm in Germany Increased by More than 30%"; "Infectious Disease: Refugees Bring Tuberculosis"; "Tuberculosis in Germany is on the Rise Again, Especially in the Big Cities: Caused by Migration and Poverty"; "Refugees Are Bringing Tuberculosis"; More Diseases in Germany: Tuberculosis is Back"; "Medical Practitioner Fears Tuberculosis Risk due to Refugee Wave"; "Significantly More Tuberculosis in Baden-Württemberg: Migrants often Affected"; "Expert: Refugee Policy to Blame for Measles Outbreak"; "Scabies on the Rise in North Rhine-Westphalia"; "Almost Forgotten Diseases Like Scabies Return to Bielefeld"; "Do You Come into Contact with Refugees? You Should Pay Attention"; and "Refugees: A Wide Range of Disorders."
At the height of the migrant crisis in October 2015, Michael Melter, the chief physician at the University Hospital Regensburg, reported that migrants were arriving at his hospital with illnesses that are hardly ever seen in Germany. "Some of the ailments I have not seen for 20 or 25 years," he said, "and many of my younger colleagues have actually never seen them."