Germany measles outbreak
Amid a measles outbreak in the country's capital, a German court has ordered a measles-denying biologist to pay the €100,000 he offered to anyone who proved the existence of the virus. Above, Dr. Juergen Hochfeld chats with a mother and her daughter before injecting the 11-month-old child with a vaccine against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox) in Berlin Feb. 26, 2015. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Stefan Lanka, a German biologist who offered on his website four years ago to pay 100,000 ($105,686) to anybody who could prove measles is a virus, now has to honor his pledge, a German court decided Thursday. After Dr. David Barden, a German national, emailed Lanka studies proving measles is a virus and laid claim to the reward, the biologist refused to pay up.

The dispute eventually reached a regional court in southern Germany, whose decision Lanka is planning to appeal, according to the Local, a German news site. The biologist told a regional newspaper, “It [measles] is a psychosomatic illness” and that “people become ill after traumatic separations,” BBC News reported.

“Because we know that the ‘measles virus’ doesn’t exist, and according to biology and medical science can’t exist ... we want the reward to get people to enlighten themselves,” Lanka wrote in his original post offering the reward, the Local said.

The German capital Berlin is in the midst of a measles outbreak, with 782 cases reported since last October. Beginning in February, when an 18-month-old child died from the virus -- the country’s first death during the outbreak -- health officials have been considering making vaccinations mandatory. About 20 measles cases are still being reported on a daily basis, the Local reported. The virus is highly contagious and can lead to serious medical complications and death.

A rise in the number of adults who refuse to vaccinate children against the virus has been blamed for measles outbreaks in Europe and North America. The belief that measles vaccines cause autism, rooted in a discredited scientific study published in 1998, is common among them. But a denier of the measles virus altogether is comparatively rare. Still, claiming certain diseases don’t exist is something Lanka may be in the habit of doing. On the website VirusMyth is an article authored by Lanka in 1995. Its title? “HIV; [sic] Reality or Artefact?”