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Pediatric Associates on the Measles Outbreak

As many of you are aware, the U.S.is suffering a measles outbreak.  This has created quite a bit of alarm and fear, but should also be a call to action for everyone to vaccinate.

 

The Numbers

In 2014 there were 644 confirmed cases of measles in the U.S (27 cases in NYC,

5 cases in New York State outside of NYC).  This was the largest outbreak of measles since the year 2000.  In just the month of January of this year, however, there have been 102 people diagnosed with measles across 14 different states (3 cases in New York State).  A large number of these patients have be linked to the outbreak in Disneyland.  Ironically, in the year 2000, the US had declared that measles had been eliminated in this country other than a few sporadic cases that arrived from other endemic areas.

 

The Disease

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can lead to serious complications and even death. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets (coughing and sneezing), which may remain alive in the air or on a surface for up to 2 hours.  After exposure, greater than 90% of susceptible persons will develop measles.  It begins with cold like symptoms of cough, runny nose, low-grade temperature, red eyes and light sensitivity.  It progresses to higher temperatures of 103-105 degrees, a red, bumpy rash which progresses from the face to the body to the arms and legs and includes the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.  There may be Koplik spots on the inside of the cheeks, which appear bluish-white on a bright red background.  About one child out of 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can leave the child deaf or mentally retarded.  For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.

 

Prevention

The best protection against the measles is the MMR vaccine, the first dose at 12-15months of age and the second dose at 4-6 years. After these two vaccines, a child is 99% protected against getting measles and is considered immune.  Additionally, a high vaccine rate in a community protects those who are the most vulnerable to the disease including infants under a year who are not yet vaccinated and immunosuppressed individuals.  It is not recommended to give the 2nd MMR vaccine sooner than 4-6years old unless a child has been exposed to a confirmed case of measles or traveling to a foreign country where measles are prevalent. At Pediatric Associates, we know that the MMR and all of the vaccines we provide are safe and effective. We follow the vaccine schedule and recommendations of the American Committee on Immunization Practices and the CDC.

 

Please feel free to share this information with your friends and relatives who choose not to have their children vaccinated.

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