Measles a New Epidemic?

Lately, there has been a resurfacing of a disease that has caused some anxiety in healthcare in the United States.   Recently, an outbreak of measles has made the headline news in case you have not heard.  These cases are believed to have originated in California at Disneyland and has grown to 95 cases reported recently by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), from January 1 to January 23, 2015, 68 people from 11 states were reported to have measles. Most of these cases are part of a large, ongoing outbreak linked to the Disney Park in California. On January 23, 2015, CDC issued a Health Advisory to notify public health departments and healthcare facilities about this multi-state outbreak and to provide guidance for healthcare providers nationwide.

The United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 644 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). This is the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000. The U.S. experienced a record number of measles cases last year, with 644 infections from 27 states despite being largely eliminated in 2000 according to the CDC.

We can understand the increase of questions and concerns regarding recent cases of measles.  We would like to share some information that can be helpful to our readers.

Measles – Measles is a highly infectious viral illness. The virus lives in the mucus of the nose and throat of people with this infection.  This disease is spread by physical contact, coughing and sneezing.  In addition, infected droplets of mucus can remain active and contagious for around two hours. This means that the virus can live outside the body – for example, on surfaces and door handles.  It usually takes  7 and 18 days (average of 10-12 days) to develop symptoms after being infected. (This is called the incubation period.) You are infectious and can pass it on to others from four days before to four days after the onset of the rash.

Measles – Once a person is infected with the virus, the virus multiples in the back of your throat and in the lungs. Then spreads throughout the body.  Listed below following are the most common symptoms of measles:

  • Usually a runny nose is first sign, a high temperature (greater 101 F), and sore eyes (red and inflammation).
  • Small white spots usually develop inside the mouth a day or so later which can persist for several days.
  • A harsh dry cough.
  • Tiredness, lack of energy, and aches and pains are usual.
  • Diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting is common.
  • A red/discolored blotchy rash normally develops about 3-4 days after the first symptoms. It usually starts on the head and neck, and spreads down the body. It takes 2-3 days to cover most of the body. The rash often turns a brownish color and gradually fades over a few days.
  • Children are usually the sickest and most miserable for about 3-5 days.  Afterwards, the fever breaks and diminish, and then the rash begins to fade.

According to studies of diseases,most children are better within 7-10 days. An irritating cough may persist for several days after other symptoms have gone. The immune system makes antibodies during the infection. According to medical research, these antibodies fight off the measles virus and then provide lifelong immunity. It is therefore rare to have more than one bout of measles.

Clinical Picture – Some people mistake rashes caused by other viruses for measles. Measles is not just a mild red rash that soon goes. The measles virus causes an unpleasant, and sometimes serious, illness. The rash is just one part of this illness.  Clinical complications of measles include:

  • Infections of the airways, such as bronchitis and croup cough
  • Laryngitis (inflammation of the voice box).
  • Ear infection causing earache
  • Conjunctivitis (eye infection/pink eye).

Intervention – Immunizations have come a long way.  Sometimes, we may not realize how important vaccinations are to protect us from diseases that can make one very ill or be fatal.

One year before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1962, there were 481,530 reported cases nationwide. In 2004, there were 37 cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number has been creeping up steadily each year.

The CDC recommends all children get two doses of MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. The agency and most other medical organizations state that the vaccination has led to a 99 percent reduction in cases of the measles in the U.S.

Measles can be a deadly disease

Check with your clinician or physician to make sure immunizations are up to date, age appropriate and your physical condition warrants getting vaccinated.

It will also be very important to wash hands regularly and thoroughly, use disinfectant wipes to clean surface areas regularly, keep yourself clean and use disposable products, use face mask to cover nose and mouth when in contact with infected persons and when infected person leaves confinement of room, air purifier in room or home where infected person will spend most time, drink clear liquid fluids, healthy bland soft foods, fruit, veggies,soups, and what taste good and healthy. Children may enjoy a frozen fruit pop, or sliced apple/apple sauce for example.  Contact your doctor or nurse immediately for concerns or questions such as high fever (greater than 101 F), diarrhea (liquid stool that are more than 5 – 6/day), nausea/not eating or drinking, or vomiting. Call 911 for emergencies and listlessness (fatigue, slow to respond or difficult to alert).

  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be taken as directed to ease aches and pain, and fever.  Keep the child cool.
  • Antibiotics do not kill the measles virus (or any virus) and so are not normally prescribed. They may be prescribed if a complication develops, such as a secondary bacterial ear infection or bacterial pneumonia.

Prevention – root of taking care of our body to maintain health and wellness.  This begins with better nutrition or fruits and veggies high in vitamins and minerals, drink healthy fruit/veggie juice and plenty of water daily.  To prevent spread of disease/illnesses stay at home if fever greater than 100 F, wash your hands regularly during the day especially after being in/using public facilities.  Wash for at least 45 seconds to 1 minute and dry thoroughly with disposable paper towel, antiseptic gels and foams are acceptable.  Some are nicely scented too.  Being healthy includes physical activity, prayer and mediation.  Get enough sleep at bedtime to replenish and refresh.

High Risk Findings –

According to the CDC:

  • The majority of the people who got measles are not vaccinated.
  • Measles is still common in many parts of the world including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa.
  • Travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S.
  • Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are not vaccinated.

The Healthy Cross takes care to compile and provide current information to our readers. Our goal is health and well being across one’s life span.  If you or your loved believe you have come into contact with an infectious person contact your physician immediately to receive treatment.  Consult with your physician about a MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) titer if you are not sure you were vaccinated as a child.

Live Life Healthier!

The Healthy Cross Staff

  • Guidelines on Measles, Health Protection Agency (2010)
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2015               

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