Travel spots : Dangers of Measles

On Jan 9th, it was 19. Jan 12th, it is 26.

I refer to the recent measles outbreak that has been linked to visiting Disneyland during Dec 15 to 20th.

The first six cases showed a correlation to not being vaccinated: 3 were children old enough to have a vaccine but did not, the other 3 were adults with 1 was not being vaccinated, another partially vaccinated and the other was just unlucky.

More infections are expected as measles in so easily transmitted: “Ninety percent of people without immunity who are exposed to the disease will catch it – even if they visit a room two hours after the infected person has left”. [Forbes]

The safest protection is the vaccine.

Back in 2000, Measles was officially eradicated in the US. Now with the hysteria of Vaccines being linked to autism, more parents are not  getting it for their kids. This has led to a re-occurrence of this preventable illness in the US -see the graph – as there is now more opportunities to catch it. To stop measles outbreaks, more than 95 percent of people need to be fully immunized.

The problem with measles is not the spots. It is the other complications. From the CDC website on measles:-

Common Complications of Measles.

Common measles complications include ear infections and diarrhea.

  • Ear infections occur in about one out of every 10 children with measles and can result in permanent hearing loss.
  • Diarrhea is reported in less than one out of 10 people with measles.

Severe Complications

Some people may suffer from severe complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). They may need to be hospitalized and could die.

  • As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
  • About one child out of every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or mentally retarded.
  • For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.

Long-term Complications

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a very rare, but fatal disease of the central nervous system that results from a measles virus infection acquired earlier in life. SSPE generally develops 7 to 10 years after a person has measles, even though the person seems to have fully recovered from the illness. Since measles was eliminated in 2000, SSPE is rarely reported in the United States.

Among people who contracted measles during the resurgence in the United States in 1989 to 1991, 4 to 11 out of every 100,000 were estimated to be at risk for developing SSPE. The risk of developing SSPE may be higher for a person who gets measles before they are two years of age.

Tara Haelle in her blog on Forbes raises some good points about Measles and tourist magnets like Disneyland. The first is the amount of young children below 12 months who may go to places like Disneyland but are too young to have their first vaccine. The second is that the resorts attract a large number of children with weakened immunity systems. Disney grants 7,000 wishes to 14,000 applications.

California also seems to a hotbed of parents not getting their kids vaccinated so this may be a factor here.

This is not just a US phenomenon. In 2014, the Philippines experienced a large measles outbreak. Many of the cases in the U.S. in 2014 were associated with cases brought in from the Philippines. The UK back in 2013, saw similar upticks due to parents not getting vaccines.

The measles uptick is the past few years is something to note and take action on.

Parents get a Vaccine for your kids. Adults get a booster.

If you have kids younger that are 12 months or younger, do NOT take them to any of the incubation places which attract hordes of kids or exposes them on international travel. Wait until they are older and are vaccinated.


Galen of Pergamon

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