WASHINGTON, December 6, 2013 — The incidence of measles, one of the most infectious diseases, has almost tripled in the USA over the last 11 months.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is concerned that the outbreak is at least partially due to lack of immunization thanks to increased fears fomented by opponents of vaccinations.
The current outbreak of 175 cases, 20 requiring hospitalization, has been traced to those affected while overseas or in countries that do not have widespread vaccination ability. These cases are known as ‘imported’.
The UK had a recent breakout of 1,217 imported measles cases and Japan had such a serious outbreak that schools, universities and other institutions were closed.
In 2009, Bulgaria reported 24,000 measles cases and 24 deaths. The strain form Bulgaria traveled to Germany, Turkey, Greece and other European countries.
As with America, the outbreak affected those who were not vaccinated. Measles contaminates 90 percent of the unvaccinated who come in contact with an infected person via fluids or aerosol action.
Measles kills 18 children per hour or 435 daily, and there is no cure. Compilations of measles include encephalitis, which causes psychoneurological damage and coma.
In a conference call with reporters, CDC director Tom Frieden MD, MPH, said the measles vaccine has saved the lives of 30 million children but more work is needed to eradicate the measles virus.
Frieden stated that there is a global commitment to eradicate measles in partnership with the World Health organization (WHO). Many countries involved in the initiative are concerned about the virus but lack the needed vaccines and personnel for administration.
Measles is a respiratory infection where an infected person may not show any symptoms for nine to twelve days after initial exposure. It is unclear how long a person is contagious, but health officials currently believe a person can infect another two to four days prior to the onset and two to five days after onset of the rash that is typically associated with measles.
Symptoms of measles can be fever, rash, diarrhea, cough and conjunctivitis (red eye). Complications may include pneumonia, Otis media (middle ear infection) corneal ulceration or eye scarring, acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and more.
Since measles can be introduced via semen, it may be considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
As with the human papilloma virus (HPV), most cases of measles are self-resolving but there is no specific treatment or cure, so vaccination is the best prevention.
Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and psychotherapist
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