The world is currently in the midst of a growing health crisis. Dangerous infectious illnesses and diseases that were once contained are now increasing in number.
In the United States, the most pressing concern is the return of measles. In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed that measles had been eliminated. Now, in 2019, 24 states have outbreaks. The CDC has confirmed nearly a thousand cases.
The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine had all but eliminated measles. Most schools required that students receive the vaccine. With the rise of the anti-vaccination movement, fewer children are being vaccinated. There’s also an increase of people immigrating from areas of the world where vaccines are less common. Infected travelers, like a recent person in Newark, spread the disease. The combination of those factors has created a serious problem with potentially deadly consequences.
Measles can cause a number of complications. Some, like diarrhea and ear infections, are typically mild. Others are more serious. Measles can cause encephalitis — when brain tissue becomes inflammed — and pneumonia. This is particularly dangerous for children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.
According to the CDC, 1 or 2 children out of 1000 who have measles will die from the disease. The most common cause of death is measles-related pneumonia. Children with measles are also at risk of becoming deaf or brain damaged.
In an effort to limit the spread of measles, many institutions are taking action. Summer camps and daycare centers in New York are refusing to admit unvaccinated children.
After someone is infected, it takes around a week or two for symptoms to begin appearing. The initial signs of measles typically include coughing, fever, watery or itchy eyes, and a runny nose. A few days after these symptoms appear, the person begins breaking out. A rash often appears inside the mouth first, and then spreads to the rest of the body.
It’s important to seek medical attention at the first sign of symptoms, particuarly for the people who are most vulnerable to complications.