Measles Outbreak: Are You Protected?

Image: Ximena Mora //

By: Araceli Salcedo, CSUN Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing Volunteer

Vaccinations and immunizations are probably one of the best preventive measures one can take. They protect us from getting sick and contracting seriously contagious and sometimes deadly diseases, such as measles. The more people that get vaccinated, the less of a chance of contracting and spreading the disease.

Vaccines are a way to build up our body’s immune system and produce antibodies, which fights off agents making you sick. Because there is an immunization for measles, The World Health Organization stated nearly 21.1 million deaths were prevented between the years 2000 to 2017. Measles is still around in underdeveloped countries, but here at home it is uncommon. If you haven’t heard though, there has been another measles outbreak in the United States. As of April 11, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported 555 cases of measles in the United States. On a state scale, 21 have been reported in California, and one case here in Los Angeles.

What is Measles?

  • Measles is an infectious, contagious disease caused by a virus. Although it is more common in children, there are still cases of teens and adults contracting the virus.
  • It is a respiratory infection and is transmitted through direct contact or through the air. For example, when an infected person coughs or sneezes, an uninfected  person can inhale that and become infected.
  • Sign and Symptoms→ fever, dry cough, runny nose, red/inflamed eyes, small white spots in the mouth (Koplik’s spots), rash on the skin
  • Complications associated with measles→ ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, brain swelling, or death

Who is more at risk?

  • Young children under the age of 5 who are not vaccinated
  • Infants who are not old enough to get vaccinated
  • Anyone who is not vaccinated
  • International travelers traveling to countries having a high prevalence of measles
  • Those with Vitamin A deficiencies
  • Pregnant women

There are immunization requirements when it comes to the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. Nearly all public school children are required to get vaccinated, but that does not mean that every parent listens and takes action. Getting the required two doses of the vaccine as a child leads to protection of measles and possibly one less death associated with the illness. Teens/Adults who are not up to date on their vaccines should also take action to prevent getting and passing measles along. Take a gander at what the vaccine recommendations are and do your part in protecting yourself and those around you.

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