Measles – It’s Back

Measles. A disease thought to have been virtually eliminated with the use of vaccines has made its appearance again in late 2014 and early 2015. Now there are two things that we are waiting for: the Superbowl and the news regarding the measles cases.

How did this even happen? There was an outbreak in Disneyland, California in mid-December of 2014, “probably [. . .] from overseas, carried either by a foreign tourist or by an American coming back with the virus,” stated a top federal health official (3). Many are concluding that it came from the Philippines, since they also witnessed an outbreak of their own. Studies have also stated that this malady’s sudden appearance is similar to those in Indonesia, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Dubai. France had encountered several outbreaks as well and Americans are in fear that measles will take the country by storm. “France went from about 40 cases a year to over 10,000 cases. It is only January and we have already had over 84 cases,” stated Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (3).

Many have been infected all around the United States, mainly in the West Coast and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “As of February 1st, 2015, 84 people from 14 states were reported to have measles in 2015” (2) 64% of those with measles are related to the Disneyland outbreak. There also have been around 700 cases of measles from 27 states in 2014, a record number  to the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Measles cases and outbreaks from January 1-November 29, 2014. 610 cases reported in 24 states: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington. 20outbreaks representing 89% of reported cases this year. Annual reported cases have ranged from a low of 37 in 2004 to a high of 220 in 2011

Why now? This is not the 1950s. To answer that question, Dr. Schuchat said that “this is not a problem of the measles vaccine not working. It is a problem of the measles vaccine not being used” (3) After the virus was “eliminated” in the 2000s, people now take the vaccine lightly. Schuchat warns that “measles can be a very serious disease and people need to be vaccinated” (3).

However, being vaccinated does not mean you are immune to the infectious virus. Three-year old Uriah Krueger was infected with measles on New Years’ Eve but did not know he was infected until a week later. His mother found him in bed with rashes and his grandmother told her that “he had been saying ‘Ow, Ow, Ow’ all night” (1). He was taken to the hospital and into an isolation unit. Anyone who entered the unit had to have a gown, gloves, and a mask on prior to entering. With all of these precautions, one would think that Uriah was lonely in his time at the hospital, but he was far from being alone. People continuously came in, examining Uriah, since he was the first of the many that was affected with measles in decades. Doctors that were born after 1950 did not get chance to treat anyone with measles for the most part, so this was definitely a sight to see for them. Luckily, he was able to recover and lead a normal fun life.

Image: measles

This is not a happy ending, yet. We all have to ensure that we are protected from this virus so that it does not have a chance to infect everyone in the country. Pediatricians are already making it mandatory to take the vaccine again, regardless of whether or not the child has taken it in the past. With these precautions, we can once again defeated the most infectious virus in the world and put it to rest for as long as we can.

Bibliography:

Fox, Maggie. “‘Ow, Ow, Ow’: Child’s Bout With Measles Makes Parents Glad for Vaccine.” NBC News. NBC News, 29 Jan. 2015. Web. 1 Feb. 2015.

“Measles Cases and Outbreaks.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Jan. 2015. Web. 1 Feb. 2015.

Fox, Maggie. “Disney Measles Outbreak Came From Overseas, CDC Says.”NBC News. NBC News, 1 Feb. 2015. Web. 1 Feb. 2015.

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