Measles: this one little word can spark so much fear and worry in a parent, but just how worried should parents be about the possibility of their children contracting measles today? In 2019, measles is not as prevalent as it was decades ago thanks to vaccinations, but we aren’t totally in the clear. Measles outbreaks are still being reported as babies too young to receive the vaccination and people who have not been vaccinated are at risk for catching the highly contagious illness.
What can you do to protect your little ones? Are the vaccinations safe for children? Is measles making a comeback? We have the answers you need to keep your family healthy in 2019.
8 Measles Outbreaks Are Making Headlines
A quick online search for measles will show you recent headlines about outbreaks in the United States, China, Canada, and other countries. In the U.S. state of Michigan, there have been 39 confirmed cases reported already this year. It's reported the last time there was this many infected people was back in 1991 with 65 confirmed cases for the entire year. In New York state, a large measles outbreak of almost 170 confirmed cases since October sparked a county to attempt to ban unvaccinated children from public places.
There have been at least 20 confirmed cases of measles in Canada this year as cities warn the public of areas where infection may take place. Other countries, such as the Philippines and Ukraine, are said to be experiencing an increase in deadly measles cases as well.
7 Recent Increases In Measles Cases
As previously mentioned, measles cases are making headlines due to an increase in confirmed cases recently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported almost 400 confirmed measles cases from January 1 to March 28 of this year. It's reported the majority of people infected with measles were not vaccinated against the virus.
States such as New York, California, Washington, and New Jersey are seeing outbreaks with three or more confirmed cases per location. The CDC attributes these cases to international travelers who brought the infection to the U.S. and to an increase in unvaccinated people.
6 Measles Are Devastating Some Countries
While measles may have been mostly wiped out in countries such as Canada and the United States, other countries such as Israel, the Philippines, and Ukraine are experiencing larger outbreaks. Measles saw a sharp decrease between 2000-2016 worldwide, but cases began to rise in 2017 by 30 percent.
It was reported in 2017 around 110,000 deaths resulted from complications of measles in all regions of world, according to the World Health Organization. The increase in measles cases are attributed to a lack of vaccinations with some developing countries struggling to vaccinate enough of their population to ward off outbreaks.
5 Complications From Measles Can Be Deadly
While the initial symptoms of infection may seem minor, such as fever, runny nose, and sore throat, more serious complications from measles can be deadly. Complications include encephalitis, which is an infection in the brain resulting from the viral infection, bronchitis, and pneumonia. These complications have a risk of being fatal, especially in young children and the elderly.
Measles-related deaths in countries such as the United States and Canada are not common, though. However, the risk of death is reportedly higher in developing countries, such as Madagascar where at least 900 people have died from Measles-related symptoms since September 2018.
4 Vaccinated People Can Still Get The Measles
Unfortunately, the vaccination to protect against the infection- the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine- is not 100 percent guaranteed to prevent a person from contracting measles. However, it does make becoming infected highly unlikely with up to 97 percent of people developing immunity to measles after the second vaccination, according to Mayo Clinic. Medical professionals recommend giving children their first MMR vaccine between ages 12 and 15 months, with the second vaccination a minimum of four weeks after the first.
3 How To Decrease Your Chances Of Measles Infection
The biggest factor in decreasing chances of measles infection is to receive the MMR vaccine. As previously stated, it may not be 100 percent in warding off the virus, but is pretty close to providing immunity to those who receive their second dose. Isolation during infection is also strongly encouraged as measles is highly contagious in the beginning stages. Because of this, it is important to keep any unvaccinated people away from those experiencing measles as they are susceptible to infection.
Vaccinations do not only help the person receiving the dose to be less likely to contract measles, but also helps build up immunity for their community. With more and more people vaccinated against the disease, it is less likely to make a resurgence.
2 Are Measles Vaccinations Safe?
With a rise in autism diagnosis and ADHD, parents may question if giving their child the MMR is safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states the MMR vaccine is safe and there is no link to suggests it causes autism. This statement was concluded following numerous studies showing no link in vaccinated versus unvaccinated children.
Recent headlines, such as those in New York where many measles cases have been reported, prove skipping the MMR vaccination can have serious health risks for young children.
1 Who Is At Greatest Risk Of Measles Infection
Children too young to be vaccinated and pregnant women are high risk for measles as it can be devastating to both populations. It has been reported measles kills about 100,000 people a year with children under age five making up the majority of that number, as reported by NBC. For a pregnant woman to become infected with the measles means a higher risk of it being fatal for her and for her unborn baby. Elderly people may be a high risk as well as complications such as pneumonia can be fatal. However, it is believed most people born before 1960 are immune to measles as they most likely had it as child.