At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 22.3 million infants worldwide missed the first dose of measles vaccine In 2020, it contributed to the largest annual increase in unvaccinated children in the United States in more than 20 years. There was concern that it might lead to an epidemic.
There is currently a measles epidemic in central Ohio, and the majority of affected children are not vaccinated.according to the official city of columbus Since the outbreak began in November 2022, there have been 85 cases of measles and 34 people have been hospitalized with the virus, according to the website. Of those infected, 78 were not vaccinated, 6 had her one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine that prevented the disease, and 1 had no vaccination status. was unknown.
All cases were children under 17 years of age, with the majority of patients under 2 years of age.
Columbus Health Commissioner Mysheika Roberts said in an interview last month The outbreak began with a small number of people returning from areas where measles outbreaks occur regularly. The virus spread rapidly among young, unvaccinated children. “The reason so many of our young children are affected by this measles epidemic is because it is a large portion of the unvaccinated population,” she said.
These are not the only cases of measles in the United States in the past year. Data from CDC shows that there were 49 cases of measles in 2021 and 118 cases in 2022 (2023 data not yet available online).
After this, it is understandable that you have questions about measles. Here’s what you should know:
What is measles?
Caused by a virus, measles is an acute viral respiratory illness that causes a range of unpleasant symptoms, including a pronounced rash, high fever, and cough. According to the CDCBut it’s not your average ailment. “Measles is a dangerous disease that can cause pneumonia and brain infections. Erase Aspects of Your Immune System,” Dr. Amesh AdaljaSenior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security told Yahoo Life: More specifically, a measles infection can damage a person’s immune system. Wiped out up to 73% of existing antibodies for other illnesses, including influenza.
The virus is also “highly contagious, even more contagious than COVID.” Dr. Thomas RussoThe head of the infectious disease department at the University of Buffalo, New York, told Yahoo Life.
Dr. Danell Fisherchairman of pediatrics at Providence St. John’s Health Center in California, told Yahoo Life that measles is highly contagious and the virus could still make someone sick. up to 2 hours After the measles person left the room. “This is highly contagious,” she says.
How is measles transmitted?
Measles spreads in a “COVID-like” way, says Russo. According to the CDC, it is transmitted through direct contact with infectious droplets or respiratory particles that enter the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes, and even after a measles patient leaves the area. The virus could stay in the air for two hours on him.
You can also catch measles by touching an infected surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. According to the CDC.
The CDC points out that measles is so contagious that if a person gets measles, up to 90% of the people around him who are not immune to the virus will become infected.
Measles Signs on Your Radar
Measles symptoms usually appear 7 to 14 days after someone is infected. According to the CDCsymptoms tend to appear in stages.
During the first stage, children usually experience symptoms such as:
I have a runny nose.
Red, teary eyes.
“Usually these cold-like symptoms come first,” says Fisher.From there, patients may experience small white spots (called Koplik Spot) in the mouth, according to the CDC. Three to five days after the onset of symptoms, he usually develops a rash, appearing as flat red spots on his face and spreading to the rest of his body. According to the CDC, measles can also cause serious complications such as pneumonia and brain swelling. “This is not a fun disease,” says Russo.
How to prevent measles
Measles is prevented with two doses of the MMR vaccine.of Recommended by CDC The first dose is given at 12-15 months, and the second dose is given at 4-6 years of age. According to the CDC, one dose of the vaccine is about 93% effective against measles, and both doses are about 97% effective.
It is important to point out that most of the children affected by the outbreak in Ohio are under the age of 2 and therefore ineligible for full immunization against measles. However, those 12 months and older, the largest group affected, were eligible for the first vaccine in the series. Only 6 people were there.
Herd immunity — This is when a sufficient portion of the population is immune to the disease so that even unvaccinated people have little chance of spreading the disease in the community, thus offering some protection — Important to protect unvaccinated people. People who haven’t been vaccinated yet, who haven’t been fully vaccinated, and who have weakened immune systems that don’t respond optimally to vaccines, says Russo.
“The only means of protection is a vaccine,” Fisher says. “I can’t believe we are here again. This is directly related to the decline in immunizations.”
How is measles treated?
There is no specific treatment for measles. Instead, children may be given acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches, pains, or fevers and encouraged to drink plenty of fluids, says Russo.
“We don’t really have a lot of treatment,” he says. “The key to measles is prevention.”
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