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The measles outbreak that began, almost ironically, at the “Happiest Place on Earth” last month is continuing to swell. This year alone, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) have now recorded 102 cases of infection from the highly contagious disease in 14 states. Last year, “The United States experienced a record number of measles cases…with 644 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). This is the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.” (Source: CDC website)
Most, but not all, cases have been linked to several dozen unvaccinated people who were exposed to the virus at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. This included kids who were too young for the shots, anti-vaxxers who chose against them and, in six cases, people who’d had their MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine and still managed to get infected, despite receiving the standard two-dose recommendation. No vaccine is 100% effective and protection is also dependent on a phenomenon called heard immunity which has diminished significantly with reduced vaccination rates.
Measles, also known as rubeola, is an incredibly contagious viral infection of the respiratory system, which can spread very quickly through contact with infected music, saliva, coughing, sneezing or even being in the same room (or air space) as an infected person. The disease can live on surfaces for several hours as the particles enter the air and settle on surfaces within close proximity. It begins with a fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and red eyes, which is followed by a rash that spreads all over the body. According to the CDC’s website, the virus is “so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.” Scary stuff, indeed!
So what can you do to prevent yourself or your child from being infected with what many people thought was an eradicated and antiquated virus? Fortunately (and rather, unfortunately for the people who’ve already been effected), the answer is quite simple: Make sure you and/or your children are up to date on your shots.
You’d think it would be a no-brainer, but the truth is many people are not up to date on their immunizations. In this epidemic’s case, many of the children involved were, in fact, unvaccinated. Some parents have, quite controversially, chosen not to vaccinate their children for fear that it will have adverse effect of the development of their kids or cause autism. However, numerous studies have since been conducted and have failed to find a link between developmental issues and immunizations.
It’s recommended all children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, the first between 12-15 months and a booster when they reach age four or five. If you’re an adult who is unsure about your immunity against the measles virus, it’s recommended you get at least one dose of vaccine.
If you suspect you or your child has come into contact with a confirmed case of the measles, contact your doctor immediately.
For more answers to questions you may have about measles or to schedule an appointment to have your child vaccinated, please contact us.