Measles spreads like, well, a virus


By Heather Mendiola

In 1963 the live measles vaccine was created, and it reduced the number of reported cases the next year.

However, in 1989 and 1991, there was an outbreak, and the number of reported measles cases was over 50,000.

In 1989, the medical community recommended the vaccine be taken in two doses. This proved effective because, in 2000, the measles was declared “eliminated.”

However, the measles are back. The outbreak started in Disneyland, and, as of Jan. 30, 102 cases of measle have bee reported across 14 states.

While most of the cases are in California, especially the area around Disneyland, the disease has spread through the country and has reached the east coast, with cases appearing in New York and Pennsylvania.

While 102 cases may seem small compared to 50,000 or even the 500,000 cases reported annually before the vaccine was created, these 102 cases are only from the past month and last year, only 644 cases of the measles were reported.

Why is this outbreak considered a big deal?

Although the measles hasn’t been prevalent in the past 20 years, it is still a highly communicable respiratory virus that is spread through the air.

The measles typically begins with a fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat.

Most cases of the measles since 2000 have been reported in those who haven’t been vaccinated against the disease. Although often called a debate, it is not a debate for the scientific community that the vaccine works.

The debate is whether or not parents want to vaccinate their children.

Most parents do choose to vaccinate their children. However, for those who choose not to, they are risking the health of not just their children, but of other children as well, because the disease is airborne.

The most concern about parents choosing not to vaccinate is that these people are typically living near each other in a community, and if the virus reaches that area, an outbreak is more likely to occur than in an area where all children are vaccinated.

Why do people choose not to vaccinate their children?

Many parents became skeptical of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) when Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a study that showed a link between autism and childhood vaccines.

However, after the publication of his findings, Wakefield and other researchers failed to reproduce his results.

In 2004, most of his co-authors withdrew their names when they learned Wakefield was paid by a law firm that intended to sue vaccine manufacturers. His study was redacted years later.

The best way to protect against measles is to get the vaccination.

There are rare side effects of the vaccine, including a rash or fever with temporary stiffness in joints, for adults.

Measles is very contageous, but rarely deadly. When there was a measles outbreak in 1989 and 1991, there were only 123 deaths out of 55,000 cases.

Doctors recomend the vaccine for all children, but parents have the right to refuse to vaccinate their children.


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