Another Outbreak . . .
According to the news, this morning, the Portland area in Oregon is experiencing a declared public health emergency. As of the last news from that area, 23 people are confirmed to have the measles with one of them in the hospital. It is expected that more confirmation of measles will be forthcoming as the incubation period after exposure can be from ten to fourteen days. I imagine that further contraction of the disease can come from people unknowingly in the incubation period making it a dangerous situation for any very young children or pregnant women coming into contact with them.
Being from the ‘dark ages’, I had measles when I was in grade school and it was an itchy and feverish time but, fortunately, without complications. When I had my own children, we got them all their vaccinations including the one for measles. In the back of my mind, however, I wondered if the measles one was necessary as I never had a problem. However, the older aka more mature I got, I realized that measles is a community problem especially knowing they could infect, unknowingly, other children before they actually broke out in a full-blown case. Again, one might think, ‘okay, measles is measles and many get through it without problems’.
Dr. Peter J. Hotez, pediatrics professor at the national School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College cites that, “It’s really awful and really tragic and totally preventable.” He also notes that measles is ‘one of the most serious infectious diseases known to humankind’. Good health doesn’t necessarily prevent contracting the disease and you never know how someone genetic makeup might respond to a case of the measles.
Complications from measles include pneumonia, croup, and encephalitis. According to the CDC, 1 out of 10 children with measles develop an ear infection; 1 in 20 get pneumonia and 1 in 1,000 may develop encephalitis and 1 or 2 in 1,000 may die. It also can cause diarrhea in less than 10 percent of cases. Measles also can cause a miscarriage in a pregnant woman, or cause her to give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby.Other complications include appendicitis, hepatitis, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), thrombocytopenia (blood disorder), and death.
I suppose the fact that actual death from the measles is ‘only’ one or two out of 1,000 cases figures the odds in one’s favor for taking chances in life . . . but not if you go against the odds and your child is one of the one or two.