MEASLES Got your attention?
Measles isn't funny. It isn't just spots. Measles is a highly contagious virus infection that usually begins like a cold or flu, and later the rash appears. Complications are not very rare, such as deafness, pneumonia or brain damage, but most infections do not cause complications.
MEASLES, FROM THE CDC
Measles was officially declared eliminated in the US in 2000, as a result of routine vaccinations for kids. This means it does NOT exist naturally in our population, but we still have cases mainly because of foreign travel bringing active infections into the country. If unvaccinated people (usually children) are exposed, there we go...
Until the past few years, the number of cases averaged around 100 annually for the entire country. Last year there were over 600 cases, obviously a huge increase. And...you have likely heard of the current large outbreak in New York that has passed 700 cases so far. ( There is also another ongoing outbreak in Oregon.) Both outbreaks are affecting primarily communities that have avoided vaccinating their children. What happened is that one (or more) of the children would have been exposed to someone who was infected outside the country (travelling, or visiting from somewhere else) and then all other susceptible children were infected. And since there are so many cases, these kids have exposed many others and there have been a few cases in folks who were vaccinated as a child.
It is easy to understand how the un-vaccinated children were infected, but why did some adults and vaccinated kids get sick also? Does this mean the vaccine is not helpful? NO. Vaccines, like any treatment, are not a 100% guarantee that the patient will be protected if exposed. They do create immunity, but sometimes it is not much, or it fades. We are kept safe by reducing EXPOSURE to lots of live virus particles (from a person with an infection), and measles was eliminated by having most people immune, so that if one person does catch it (here or more likely in another country), it does not spread because MOST of the people exposed are protected. This is called "herd immunity" (moo).
In short: If an infected person exposes one person in a group that is not protected (such as a community of anti-vaccine families) it will spread easily and quickly. They then expose others that are vaccinated, a few of which will also get sick because the vaccine cannot work 100% of the time, remember? That is exactly what is happening , but the more cases, the more likely it can spread.
So far, there have been no cases reported in NC during this outbreak.
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