German biologist who denies measles virus exists ordered to pay

A measles vaccination is prepared in Berlin on February 23, 2015 (AFP Photo/Lukas Schulze) (DPA/AFP/File)

Berlin (AFP) - A German biologist who promised to pay 100,000 euros to anyone who could prove that the measles was indeed a virus was ordered by a court on Thursday to hand over the money.

The man had made the promise in 2011 on his website, saying anyone who could offer scientific proof of the existence of the virus would receive the $106,000 reward.

He denies the existence of the virus and says he believes the illness to be psychosomatic.

A German doctor gathered various scientific publications on the subject and claimed the reward, but the biologist refuted the findings.

The court in Ravensburg in Germany's southwest ruled that the doctor had offered sufficient proof. However, the biologist has maintained his stance.

"It is a psychosomatic illness," he told regional paper Suedkurier. "People become ill after traumatic separations."

Last month, a toddler suffering from measles died in Berlin amid the country's worst outbreak in years, rekindling a debate on vaccinations.

A recent outbreak in the United States also led to controversy over some families' decisions to refuse vaccines.

The World Health Organization has called on European nations to step up vaccinations against the highly contagious virus after an outbreak of over 22,000 cases across the continent since 2014.

Measles causes fever and rash, and in severe cases can lead to pneumonia or brain swelling, sometimes fatal. The disease is highly contagious because it is transmitted through the air.

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