Measles Remerging as a Public Health Threat

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This winter, there has been an ongoing outbreak of Measles (Morbillivirus measles virus)  in Washington state, New York City, and it has now spread up to Canada. This airborne illness is highly contagious and most common in young children. This disease has had a very low prevalence, but in the past month, the number of US cases has skyrocketed. In the past two months, there have been more than 107 cases of measles in the US alone. The state of Washington has declared this a public health emergency. Measles is preventable by a vaccination. When you get a disease, such as measles or chicken pox, your body develops antibodies designed to sense the disease and fight it. Once you get that disease, your body develops immunity. That means that your body is immune to it or you won’t be able to get it again. When you receive a vaccination, it gives you a very small dose of some part of the virus. Then your body develops antibodies to detect and then fend off the disease. So when exposed to the disease after being vaccinated, your risk of becoming infected is significantly lower. When the majority of people in an area are vaccinated, herd immunity develops. This means that a large percentage of the population has become immune to the virus.

The reason that measles has not been eliminated permanently is that some parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children because of religious, social, or moral beliefs. Measles is extremely contagious. For example, an infected child walks into the room and coughs or sneezes. They exit the room and another unvaccinated child enters. The disease could spread to the unvaccinated child. It is that contagious and this shows the importance of being vaccinated.

Measles can be recognized as a red, blotchy rash that starts on the face but can soon spread to the entire body. Some other symptoms of measles include fever, dry cough, muscle cramps, and fatigue.

Protection of you and your loved ones from this disease is crucial. This vaccine is necessary to stay healthy and at an affordable price. Visit your doctor for more information about how you can prevent this disease.

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