Measles outbreaks can happen anywhere at any time. If you have heard about a measles outbreak on the news or come across it over the internet, you might be wondering what you should be aware of regarding this disease.
Keep reading to learn about measles, how this viral infection spreads, its symptoms and how you can help prevent and treat it.
Be Warned: Measles Is Contagious and Can Be Fatal
If you think that measles is just a simple fever and rash, you’re wrong. Also called rubeola, it is a highly contagious, acute viral infection of the respiratory system that can lead to serious complications.1 In fact:2
• 1 out of every 10 infected children will develop an ear infection that can lead to permanent hearing loss
• 1 out of every 20 children with measles will get pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death from the infection in young children
• 1 out of 1,000 people with measles can develop encephalitis (brain inflammation), which could lead to brain damage
Measles can be fatal for both adults and young children, especially in those with a weakened immune system. In fact, 2 out of every 1,000 people with measles are said to die due to complications, even with the best medical care.3
The World Health Organization (WHO) also reported that measles kills more than 100,000 people (mostly children under age 5), all over the world each year.4
In order to avoid these complications, you need to know how to reduce your risk of getting measles and recognize its symptoms as well.
How Measles Spreads and Symptoms You Should Watch Out For
Measles can be transmitted via respiratory droplets (infected saliva or mucus) in the air, spreading easily from person to person through a cough or sneeze. In addition, the measles virus can stay airborne or live on surfaces for up to two hours, which means anyone who breathes the contaminated air or touches the infected surface can become infected.5
You need to know the symptoms of measles, especially if you think you or a family member is infected. The symptoms often appear within 14 days of exposure to the virus. Like a cold, it starts with a fever, muscle aches, cough and runny nose, but it is the inflamed or pink eyes and the white spots inside the mouth that give it away. Two to four days later, those who are infected will get a red, blotchy skin rash that will spread over their body.6
Measles Is Still a Prevalent and Dangerous Disease
Despite the declaration of measles elimination (absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months) in the U.S. back in 2000,7 new cases continue to occur. This is due to factors like the prevalence of measles in many parts of the word, including some countries in Europe, the Pacific, Africa and Asia.
Americans who travel to foreign countries with a measles outbreak often directly contribute to the increase of cases in the U.S. Most of the time, their symptoms only occur after returning home.8
Is Vaccination the Key to Preventing Measles?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this disease can be prevented with a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which they claim provides long-term protection against all strains of measles. However, this vaccine only offers temporary artificial immunity, and there is an increasing amount of evidence that even vaccinated people in the U.S. are getting measles, even after two doses of the MMR vaccine.9,10
What’s more alarming is that between 2013 and 2015, 98 deaths following MMR vaccinations were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). In the same time frame, there were 694 reports of MMR vaccinations that caused disability.11
There are safer options available for protecting you and your family, such as avoiding public places during a measles breakout and strengthening your immune system to help your body fight the infection.
You can help enhance your immunity by eating organic whole foods, consuming more high-quality fats and getting enough sleep daily. One study indicates that vitamin A deficiency is a risk factor for developing severe measles, so you need to address this and other nutritional deficiencies as well.12
Learn everything you need to know about measles in these articles — the causes, symptoms and treatment strategies for this illness. Be informed so that you and your loved ones, especially your children, can stay protected against this damaging disease.
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