Have you thought about why you and your family should get the measles shot? Perhaps you should as the United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, 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.
From January 1 -March 13, 2015 176 people from 17 states and the District of Columbia were reported to have measles [AZ (7), CA (118), CO (1), DC (2), DE (1), GA (1), IL (15), MI (1), MN (1), NE (2), NJ (2), NY (3), NV (9), PA (1), SD (2) TX (1), UT (2), WA (7)]. The CDC updates this data weekly on Monday’s.
Typically, measles occurs during childhood. The measles was formally called rubeola and is a serious and even fateful condition in children and although death rates are continually falling, measles still kills 100,000 people a year, and most of them are under the age of 5. We hear of children acquiring the measles but adults get them too if they have not been vaccinated.
What Are The Symptoms of Measles?
- Measles starts with a fever that can get very high
- A rash of tiny, red spots that start at the head and spread to the rest of the body
- A cough, runny nose, and red eyes
- Ear infection
How is Measles Spread?
Measles can be spread as simply as an infected individual sneezing or coughing where moisture from the infected nose and throat come into contact with others whether being inhaled or through touching an infected surface.
Background of the Measles Vaccination
It is generally assumed that those who were born before 1957 are immune to the measles because the previous outbreaks of it helped people become immune to it prior to the measles vaccination coming out in 1963. Unsure if you were vaccinated? That’s ok, there is a blood test that can be given in order to see if you have certain antibodies that will tell a doctor if you are immune or not. Don’t want to put up with that hassle? That’s ok, it’s also perfectly fine to have the vaccine again, and it’s affordable.
According to the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, there was a glitch during the early years of the administration of the vaccine between the years of 1963 and 1967 and it may be possible that someone is not fully immune if they were accidentally given a “killed measles virus vaccine” rather than the “live virus vaccine. Because of this, the center estimates anywhere between 600,000-900,000 individuals received the dead vaccine during that time period.
Secondly, those who have a vitamin A deficiency and don’t get enough of that in their diet are more prone to getting the measles and also have more severe symptoms when they do. An easy way to get more vitamin A in your diet is to eat fish and meats, as well as dark leafy greens, carrots and sweet potatoes to name a few. And lastly, the third way you can become likely to contract the measles is through traveling internationally without getting vaccinated first. So take these precautionary steps to keep yourself healthy, happy and measles-free!
If you believe you or your child have been exposed to the measles contact one of our Pediatricians or Internal Medicine doctors today.