In 2019, the United States the measles epidemic is on the rise with the second-highest number of new cases in almost two decades.
Nineteen states have reported cases of the disease and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 465 cases have been diagnosed.
The recent outbreak is linked to individuals who traveled to Israel, the Philippines, and Ukraine. The disease is being spread to communities who are not vaccinated.
Following are some answers to questions which are commonly asked regarding measles.
How Is Measles Spread?
Measles, a disease caused by a virus, is considered one of the most contagious diseases on the planet. The virus lives in the throat and nose on an infected person. I can be spread through direct contact which droplets which are infected with the virus and is spread through the air when a person who is infected cough, sneezes or breathes.
The measles virus can remain in the air infectious for up to two hours after a person who is infected exits the area.
If an individual breathes air which is contaminated or touches the surface that is infected and then touches their mouths, eyes, or noses, they can be infected.
Measles is so infectious if one individual has it, 90 percent of those who are near that person or walks through the area the infected person has been in and are not immune, may also become infected.
Those who are infected with the measles can spread it from for days prior through four days after a rash appears.
Can Antibiotics Be Used Treat Measles?
Antibiotics are used to treat illnesses caused by bacteria. A virus causes measles. There is no treatment for treating measles.
The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine is given to children as a preventative of the disease. People who are not immunized, which includes infants, if exposed to the measles can be given the vaccination within 72 hours.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people who have weakened immune systems, infants and pregnant women who are exposed, can receive immune serum globulin which is a protein injection within six days from exposure to reduce symptoms or prevent the measles.
How Dangerous Is The Measles?
Measles can be a deadly disease, especially for young children and babies. Some individuals can have severe complications such as encephalitis (brain swelling), and pneumonia (lung infection). Measles may also cause a pregnant woman to have a premature birth, or the baby may have a low birth weight.
The CDC Says:
- One out of 20 children who are infected with measles develops pneumonia, which in young children is the most common cause of measles-related deaths.
- One child out of 1,000 who have measles will develop encephalitis. This could leave the child with intellectual difficulties, deaf, or they can have convulsions.
- One or two children out of 1,000 who develop measles will die.
Researchers in California have found a rare neurological complication that can kill a child years after they had the measles is more common that they have thought before.
The neurological disorder could lie dormant in the body for years. It is always 100 percent fatal, with no cure.
If a baby gets measles prior to receiving the vaccine, the rate is 1 in 609.
Is The Measles Vaccine Effective?
One dose of the MMR vaccine is 93 percent effective. Two doses are 97 percent effective. The CDC recommends a child gets the first dose when they are 12-15 months, and the second dose at 4-6 years.
If an individual is a pregnant woman, one should wait to get the shot after the child is born. Women who are breastfeeding can receive the MMR shot.
Why Are Infants At Risk Of Getting Measles?
If the mother of a baby had the MMR shot or had the disease, she would have passed the antibodies to her baby while in utero and would continue to pass it during breastfeeding.
The antibodies will protect infants for six months. However, it is not known how long the protection will last.
Will The Measles Vaccine Cause Autism?
There is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Many scientific studies from around the world have proven this. Scientists are now researching what makes a child more prone to become autistic such as an older father or genes.
How Did The Conspiracy Theory That The MMR Vaccine Causes Autism Start?
The claim started in the late 90s. The number of autism cases was increasing, and medical personnel did not know why.
In 1998, Andrew Wakefield, a British researcher published a paper which was fraudulent saying the MMR vaccine caused autism. Wakefield has since retracted the article.
Evidence was brought to the surface that Wakefield was paid by lawyers who were representing parents in a lawsuit against the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine, and the data provided by Wakefield was fraudulent.
In February 2010, his study was retracted by the Lancet. Also in 2010, his license was revoked after being found guilty by Britain’s General Medical Council of professional misconduct.
Are Vaccines Tested For Safety?
In the United States, vaccines are one of the most tested medical product available. Before the Food and Drug Administration approves a vaccine, the manufacturer must prove it is effective and safe by performing clinical trials.
This process could cost millions and last more than a decade.
The FDA examines the research and then will determine if a vaccine is effective, safe, and ready to use.
The FDA will only provide a license for a vaccine that proves the benefits outweigh the risks.
Do Religions Oppose Vaccines?
Scholars believe no major religion is against vaccines based on the official doctrine. They also say the majority are in support of it.
According to the Pew Research study, the majority of Americans who partake in all religious groups believe healthy children should be vaccinated before attending school.
However, some individuals believe vaccinating goes against their religion.
Written by Barbara Sobel
The Washington Post: How does measles spread and other frequently asked questions about measles
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