Measles outbreak puts children at risk

By Kyla Cook |Asst. News Editor|

The measles are making a comeback in the United States due to unvaccinated travelers.

Although measles have been very rare in the United States, it is still prominent in other parts of the world, most notably France.

France has reported 10,000 cases within the first four months of the year, reported The Los Angeles Times.

This year, 118 cases have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with 105 having occurred in unvaccinated people and 89 percent caused from the “importation of the disease,” stated The Los Angeles Times.

This poses a problem for infants less than 1 year of age because they are too young to receive the vaccination, said Dr. Patti Smith, director of the CSUSB Student Health and Counseling Center.

“We are always trying to have people vaccinate their children,” said Smith. “It is really important for everyone to get the vaccinations when they are recommended.”

According to the CDC, two doses of the vaccine, MMR, is recommended; once for children at age 12-15 months and again at age 4-6 years.

Smith said that the symptoms of measles are similar to that of a cold; high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Then a blotchy rash begins at the hairline and moves its way down the body.

Klopik spots, a tiny white color with a blue center, also form in the mouth. These symptoms develop 7-14 days after exposure, said Smith.

Even though symptoms may seem minuscule because they are so similar to a cold, serious complications may develop.

“About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. About one out of 1,000 gets encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain that can lead to convulsions, and can leave the child deaf or mentally retarded), and one or two out of 1,000 die,” states the CDC website.

The CDC also reports that measles kill around one million children in the world each year.

“It is very contagious,” said Smith. “Ninety percent of people unimmunized will get it.”

Smith said that measles spreads by droplet infection, which comes through coughs and sneezes, and the virus can survive on a surface for up to two hours.

Measles is usually treated symptomatically, meaning if you have a sore throat, the sore throat is treated; if you have a cough, the cough is treated. Isolation is also necessary, said Smith.

Smith recommends that when treating measles, children and young adults should take Tylenol rather than aspirin because aspirin may cause Reye’s syndrome and is lethal.

Smith said that a more serious disease this year is pertussis, or the whooping cough, which is more common in the United States than measles. She said there have been a lot of cases at school this year and it is taken home to children.

“People cough so hard they vomit,” said Smith. “Being sick could last only 10 days but the cough could last weeks or months, it’s really exhausting.”

Pertussis is spread similar to that of measles and is fatal for babies.

“All adults around children should get vaccinated.” said Smith. The vaccination is called Tdap.

Both Tdap and MMR vaccines are offered at the CSUSB Student Health and Counseling Center.

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