In the year 2000 measles were totally eradicated from the United States. Still isolated outbreaks of measles occur due to pockets of people who refuse to vaccinate on religious grounds, bringing measles back from mission projects overseas, and causing the last recorded measles death in the United States in 2003. Thanks to the a misguided no-vaccination movement do to a debunked report that vaccination causes autism, measles has now occurred beyond these pockets of isolated people who refuse to take part in the modern world. Measles has become benign to people, because they are far removed from the complications of the disease.
The current measles outbreak started with one person visiting Disneyland in California. There are over a hundred people infected with the preventable disease in California, including some children to young for vaccination. Measles has spread across the country. Two states do not have to worry about measles. West Virginia and Mississippi are states that require vaccination of all children. All other states allow exemptions for various reasons, and the details of this choice vary from state to state.
A cough or sneeze spreads measles. The person spreading the disease will not know they have measles, because these symptoms start four days before the rash appears. Droplets stay alive on surfaces for up to two hours. Of those who are not immune, 90 percent will get measles. Those under age 5 and over the age of 20 are most at risk for complications.
In young children, ear infections are a common complication, and 1 in 10 can experience permanent hearing loss. Young children may also get diarrhea, which can cause death from dehydration. Pneumonia is the most common cause of death from measles with 1 in 20 people dying. Encephalitis (brain swelling) is another complication of the measles resulting in death for 15 percent and leaving 25 percent with some permanent neurologic damage, and another 1 out of 1,000 experience convulsions and are left deaf and mentally retarded. One or two out of 1,000 will die from measles.
A rare complications of measles, only 20 out of a million, is Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), and is fatal 7 to 10 years after a person seems to fully recover from the measles. SSPE is inflammation of measles harbored in the brain for years until the swelling becomes fatal. Those under the age of 2 are most susceptible to SSPE.
One of the most common complications of measles is blindness. Measles is the leading cause of blindness in Africa, where malnutrition raises fatality rates to 25 percent. Those with a compromised immune system can experience a more sever or prolonged case of measles with temperatures of up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit, and seizures, delirium, respiratory distress, hemorrhage into the skin, and mucous membranes.
If you received vaccination between 1963 and 1967 you should check with your doctor. The killed measles vaccine (KMV) used during these years leaves you open to atypical measles. You may need revaccination with the live vaccine for full protection.
Your grandparents and great-grandparents lived with the fear of measles, because of these complications. Vaccinations are a blessing, it’s not complicated