News sources on Saturday are reporting that a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says measles cases in the U.S. tripled in 2013, to 175 confirmed cases.
With this year marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of the measles vaccine, the threat of a measles outbreak would appear to be a thing of the past. But that isn't so, especially with our world becoming more accessible as it becomes easier and more affordable to travel the globe.
The CDC warns, measles is a very serious disease, and one that can kill. Before the measles immunization program started in the U.S, in 1963, just about everybody came down with measles. Today, in our country, we see around 50 to 60 cases nationwide in any given year. These cases are confined to people who have not been vaccinated.
Before 1963, about 400-500 people died every year from complications from having the virus. Another 48,000 ended up in the hospital, and an additional 7,000 people had seizures, and at least 1,000 were left deaf because of the disease.
With the exception of countries like the U.S. with national immunization programs, measles is still a global concern. Every day, somewhere in the world, 430 children, that's 18 every hour, die from measles and its complications.
The measles virus is so contagious, that if one person has measles, 9 out of 10 unvaccinated people close to that person will come down with the disease, too. That is 90 percent, folks.
Here in the U.S., measles was declared to be "eradicated" a little over 20 years ago. Since that time, the number of cases being seen has remained very low, about 50-60 cases a year. Almost all being caused by someone either traveling abroad, or someone bringing it in to the country.
The elevated number of cases seen so far this year in this country can be attributed to 9 outbreaks, like the one in Brooklyn, N.Y. in March, involving 58 people in a Jewish neighborhood, and another in Texas, where 22 people came down with the measles
.In these outbreaks, as well as others, the start of the illness could be traced to someone traveling abroad and bringing the disease back with them, or someone visiting from abroad who carried it into the country.
CDC Director, Tom Frieden, points out that since 2001, the United Nations, CDC, WHO and other global organizations have vaccinated over one billion children, and in the last decade, these vaccinations have helped to prevent the deaths of at least 10 million.
Remember, measles is only a few hours away, just a plane ride. Many people can be carriers of the virus, and not even feel sick, yet they can spread the illness quickly. Measles starts out like the flu, with a runny nose, fever, sore throat and sore-looking red eyes.
It isn't too long before "tiny white spots with bluish white centers" appear inside the mouth. Soon the reddish-brown rash will appear, starting on the hairline and spreading down the body. That's the measles, but most of us older folks have had them, and no, they are not fun.