With the recent outbreak of measles at Disney Land in California, many people wonder if it is a disease that will be coming to their area soon. While many rumors were abound as to what caused the measles outbreak, some of which stem from a fear of undocumented aliens, the truth is much more simple. The spread of measles was likely caused by an increase of children who were non-vaccinated coming into contact with the disease. Those who are non-vaccinated against measles need beware.
Nearly every child who is not vaccinated is at risk for catching measles, otherwise known as rubeola. Measles stem from a virus that can develop into the deadly infection. Most cases of measles come about from people having a vitamin A deficiency, and those who visit developing countries that do not have access to the vaccine. This does not mean in any way that everyone who travels internationally to such nations will contract measles, but it is a risk factor nonetheless. Generally, measles outbreaks happen when a child that has not had the measles-mumps-rubeola (MMR) vaccine comes into contact with an individual who is unknowingly carrying the disease.
Measles is a human originated disease, it does not come from any kind of animal. It is such a strong disease that if only one person has measles, 90 percent of non-vaccinated people who come into contact with the carrier will be infected. Measles can spread by surface and air aside from person to person contact. Should a person cough or sneeze into the air or onto a surface, measles can be caught for up to two hours if someone should touch the contaminated surface or breathe in the contaminated air. The MMR vaccine is 93 percent effective after one dose, and with a second dose of the vaccine, it has a success rate of 97 to 99 percent.
Many children born in this modern era of non-vaccinating and organic living are at risk of catching this disease at some point in their life, and it having a high fatality rate should be scary to the non-vaccinated. Once a person has measles there is no known cure, though taking vitamin A supplements and getting the vaccine post-contamination can severely reduce the symptoms of measles. Though the word is still out in various side effects of certain vaccines, the MMR vaccine has relatively few common side effects.
One in six people will catch a fever, one in 20 may develop a rash, and one in 75 can have swollen glands appear before subsiding. Only one in 3,000 have seizures after receiving the vaccine, but those can be caused by high fevers or different diseases alone, such as measles. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that any other severe side effects to the vaccine are so rare that it is hard to tell if they were caused by the vaccine in the first place. The MMR vaccine is not for everyone though. Women who are pregnant should not receive the vaccine while pregnant, and if a person has had a severe reaction to the antibiotic neomycin, this vaccine should be avoided. While some cases of the disease do fix themselves given time, post disease complications such as life-long disabilities may occur, if the infected patient does not die in the first place.
Some of the symptoms of the disease are high fevers, sore throat, and a rash that covers the entire body. It is important to remember that once someone has contracted the disease, there is little to be done about it. Mostly, a parent or friend can be of help by keeping the sick child or adult hydrated. Apart from that, an individual could take fever reducers such as aspirin or Tylenol, or increase vitamin A intake. After those treatments have been done, all one can do is wait.
If the vaccination was not so heavily used, there would be considerably more deaths per year by the disease. While those vaccinated can also rarely catch measles, the chances of that happening are dramatically lower than those walking the world without a vaccination. In general, if a child does not receive the MMR vaccine, they have good reason to be fearful, while the rest of those engaging in “herd immunity” are relatively safe.
By Benjamin Johnson
Photo by Pete Lewis – Flickr License