Measles sound like one of those diseases from the past — something that modern medicine has long eradicated. Well, because of our collective relaxed attitude about it, this disease is on the rise again. The disease has been popping up everywhere from Germany to the United States — and it is spreading fast.
It’s easy to avoid it if you’re vaccinated, but people who are not protected from the disease can contract it quite quickly. Measles spread through contact with infected fluids (nasal drippings, cough particles, etc.) and 90% of people who are in close quarters with an infected person will contract the disease. This is, of course, assuming that they are not immune.
Measles cause several days of fever, cough, conjunctivitis (pink eye), and runny nose. Then, a rash will begin to spread over the back, across the trunk of the body, and eventually over the arms, hands, legs, and feet. This usually lasts for approximately five days.
Measles are not normally dangerous in older children or in young adults, but some people could suffer complications such as diarrhea, ear infections, or other transient problems. In those with compromised immune systems, pneumonia could even develop and this could be deadly. There have also been rare cases of brain inflammation causing death associated with the measles. As you can see, it is important to protect yourself.
There are two ways to become immune to the measles. One way is to catch the disease as a child. Just like with the chicken pox, this normally causes lifetime immunity. The more preferred way of keeping this virus at bay is through immunization. However, not everyone needs to get a vaccine shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, people born before 1957 probably don’t need a vaccine because incidences of measles were widespread and most people born in this time have already had the disease and have developed immunity as a result.
If you don’t know if you’ve had measles as a child, or if you’re not sure if you’ve had the vaccine, you may want to ask your doctor for a blood test in order to determine your immunity status. This is especially important if you travel a lot, live around people with compromised immune systems, or if you suffer from a poor immune system.
Check your immunization records to determine whether a visit to your doctor could be beneficial to you.