You’ve been hearing about measles outbreaks in the news lately. Also called rubeola, measles is a respiratory disease caused by a virus. It causes a rash over the entire body, a fever and runny nose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia.” Measles can also, rarely, be fatal. Between one and two children in 1000 who get the disease will die from it. The disease can also strike adults.
If you thought measles was a disease left in the past, think again. An outbreak this year in Ohio (374 cases in 4 months) has health departments all over the country concerned, because such an event can happen anywhere. The Ohio outbreak began when unvaccinated people traveled abroad to places where measles is more common because a larger percentage of the population is unvaccinated.
It’s no coincidence that we used the word “unvaccinated” twice in that last sentence. The reason measles is spreading again in the United States is because of a drop in MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccinations. Those who decide not to be vaccinated (or to have their children vaccinated) put themselves, their families and their communities at risk for dangerous diseases. As with most diseases, those at highest risk are the very young, the very old, and those with compromised immune systems.
The MMR vaccination is required for students in Scott County Schools, and HIGHLY recommended for all other children. The State of Kentucky requires two doses of the MMR vaccine before your child can enter school. If you have concerns about vaccinations, talk to your pediatrician.
Remember that the extremely rare risk of a reaction to a vaccination is much smaller than the risk of being unvaccinated against a dangerous illness.
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