The Return Of Measles

Measles is a highly contagious, serious airborne disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily by breathing, coughing and sneezing. It is most common in children but can spread to anyone. Globally, there are about 30 million cases and 2 million deaths each year from measles.

Measles can be prevented. The measles vaccine was first approved for use in 1963 and has been improved upon 3 times since then. Today it is the MMRV vaccine, and it protects against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (Chickenpox). It is recommended for children starting at 12 through 15 months old, with the second dose between ages 4 and 6 before starting school.

Measles was officially eliminated in the US in 2000 through vaccination. Yet today, we are seeing a growing number of outbreaks in 16 states by early March 2024. The Covid pandemic caused some children’s vaccinations to be delayed or skipped altogether. The anti-vax movement and misinformation about vaccines in general caused a further decline in immunizations. The attitude, “If the other kids are vaccinated, mine doesn’t have to be,” and mandated vaccines for school attendance treadon parental rights defies the logic of community protection (herd immunity) and social responsibility. When enough people abandon vaccinations, herd immunity is lost giving once controlled diseases free reign to surge through the population.

Symptoms of measles usually begin 10–14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms last up to 2 weeks and include:

  • fever up to 104°F
  • runny nose, cough, sneezing
  • red and watery eyes, light sensitivity
  • small white spots inside the cheeks
  • aches, pains, lack of energy
  • reddish-brown, itchy rash starting on the face and neck spreading all over to hands and feet

While a normal case of measles may mean about 2 weeks of discomfort, unvaccinated young children and pregnant women are at the highest risk of severe measles complications which can include:

  • blindness
  • encephalitis (an infection causing brain swelling and potentially brain damage)
  • severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration
  • ear infections, hearing loss
  • severe breathing problems including pneumonia
  • weakened immune system long-term
  • subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a rare neurologic degenerative disease that can occur 7–10 years after infection

If a woman catches measles during pregnancy, it can result premature birth with a low birth weight. Complications are most common in children under 5 and adults over 30. There is no medicine to treat measles, only over-the-counter products to ease the symptoms. Anyone with measles should get Vitamin A supplements.

Why risk your child or other family members getting sick or having serious complications when it can be prevented with a safe vaccine that has been used for 60+ years?

Your providers at Goldsboro Pediatrics are happy to discuss any vaccine concerns you may have. It’s never too late to get the MMRV vaccine.

World Health Organization
The New York Times
NHS Inform
World Health Organization

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