Have you ever heard of the MEASLES?
Have you ever wondered what the Measles is, and why you received a vaccine? Hopefully if you have heard of it, it was just through reading about it…and not because YOU, or a FAMILY MEMBER or FRIEND was exposed to the Measles.
Have you even ever given it a second thought. Probably not, But You more than likely received the Measles vaccine as part of your immunizations as a child.
Now, in regards to vaccines, you have probably heard of Measles, but described in combination with the Mumps and Rubella vaccines, as in the abbreviated form of MMR, short for Measles, Mumps and Rubella. These are a combination of vaccines against these
particular infectious diseases.
Measles, is also known as Rubeola, and is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by the Measles virus. The Measles virus, is a paramyxovirus, of the genus Morbillivirus, and is more common in Springtime and Winter. Measles was actually documented in history in as early as the 9th century. According to the CDC, It became reportable in 1912, the same year the Titanic sank.
During the next 10 years, there was an average of approximately 6,000 measles-related deaths each year. It wasn’t until 1963 that a vaccine for the measles was used in the United States, with a second dose of MMR vaccine for all children, beginning in 1989.
Since then, there were sporadic outbreaks until 2000, when it was declared as eliminated from the United States. However, Measles has not been eliminated from the rest of the world, and that is how it continues to resurface in the United States, through travelers who are unvaccinated.
Measles continues to be serious and fatal for small children. Death rates in children do continue to decline as vaccination rates increase, but in children under 5 years of age, measles continues to kill more than 100,000 people a year. Measles is so contagious that 90% of unvaccinated persons, will become infected…if exposed.
What is Measles and How do you get the Measles?
Measles, or Rubeola, is highly contagious and is transmitted through droplets that are dispersed into the air from coughing and sneezing, where it can then be inhaled.
The Measles virus can remain active and contagious for approximately 2 hours on surfaces, then a person touches whatever surface, then touches their eyes, nose, and mouth, bringing the virus directly into their mucous membranes. That is why covering a cough or sneeze
and WASHING YOUR HANDS is always so important!!!
So what happens with the Measles? What are Signs & Symptoms, and What does the Measles look like?
After being exposed to an infected person with the Measles virus, symptoms usually begin in 10–12 days. When symptoms begin, it is usually a high fever (many times greater than 40 °C or 104 °F), with a runny nose, cough, and “Pink-like colored eyes” (which are watery, red, and inflamed).
After these symptoms begin, by about the second or third day, small, tiny white, salt-like spots, called Koplik’s spots, appear inside the mouth, specifically all over the cheeks.
Three to five days later, usually a red or reddish-brown rash begins, that starts from the head and face, and then spreads downward towards the feet, covering the whole body. This
lasts about a week.
How do you protect against the Measles?
The number one method in measles prevention is through vaccination, more specifically, the Measles, Mump, and Rubella vaccine, also knowns as the MMR vaccine. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are required, which is 97% effective in preventing the Measles. The MMR vaccine protects not only you, but also those who are unable to be vaccinated because they are too young or have compromised immune systems.
Another way to stop the spread is through Isolation.
What are the Complications of Measles?
Common complications of measles include bacterial ear infections, Pneumonia, Bronchitis and Laryngitis or Croup. Complications from measles can result in a serious illness requiring hospitalization with: One out of every 1,000 measles patients developing acute encephalitis, leading to permanent brain damage. It can also lead to approximately 1 to 3 children out of 1,000 dying from complications associated with neurological and respiratory conditions.
A fatal degenerative disease of the central nervous system, known as SSPE, or subacute sclerosing panencephalitis external, which does not manifest until years later. SSPE causes behavioral changes, intellectual deterioration and also seizures, which can generally develop 7 to 10 years after a Measles infection.
This is more common in those who have a history of Measles
infection, usually children who had measles younger than 2 years of age.
Measles can also cause complications in Pregnancy, leading to preterm labor, low birth weight for the baby, and maternal death.
Who and when should someone get the Measles vaccine?
First and foremost children should receive their first dose at 12 months through 15 months of age .
A second dose is required at 4 through 6 years of age. Also, those who have never been vaccinated and those with no evidence of immunity, as in Adults, Children 12 months of age and older, teenagers, those who travel, and healthcare workers. Check with your medical provider about the specifics.
Measles symptoms usually often disappear in the same way they came. After a few days, symptoms subside, the rash starts to disappear, and an overall of “feeling better” begins.
Who should NOT get the measles vaccine?
Those taking immunosuppressants and or steroids, or medications that affect the immune system.
Anyone who has ever had an allergic reaction to previous MMR vaccines.
Pregnant women should NOT get the MMR vaccine, but can receive it after giving birth. Women who want to become pregnant should also delay pregnancy for 4 weeks after being vaccinated with MMR vaccine.
Those who have had allergic reaction to Neomycin (a type of Antibiotic) should not get the Measles vaccine, and people who have that diseases that affect the immune system such as HIV.
I hope this brings a little more understanding about the Measles. Although it is not common, it is something that Nurses should be aware of, and why people need to be vaccinated against it, especially infants and children.