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Measles is a highly contagious disease that has the potential to spread very rapidly. Currently, the US has seen a spike in measles cases - about 175 over the past year. This rise was attributed to travelers from foreign countries and has affected a range of the population in various ways.
Research indicates that the disease has been spread by unvaccinated individuals, or those who did not receive the measles vaccine on schedule. Out of the 175 measles cases that have occurred, 20 hospitalizations have resulted and the entire outbreak itself came from 52 separate travelers. Interestingly enough, these travelers were not from underdeveloped, poorer countries who don’t have access to the measles vaccine. Many countries throughout Europe see cases of measles regularly. As a matter of fact, in the last 3 years Western Europe has seen 25,000 measles cases annually largely due to the rise in hesitancy to get vaccinated.
The risk associate with measles is more than just an itchy rash; the disease has the potential for numerous complications, including hearing loss, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), miscarriage, pneumonia and even death, especially in young children. The concern resulting from this outbreak is that parents aren't vaccinating their children putting the population at risk, including those who utilize a delayed vaccination schedule.
Symptoms of measles (appear 8-12 days following exposure)
- High fever
- Cough, runny nose and red eyes
- Red spotted rash (starting at head and spreading downward throughout the body
- May be accompanied by diarrhea or ear infection in small children
If you or your family is at risk for developing measles, talk to your doctor about what you can do to stay healthy today.