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NB's The Nyle Magazine

Monday, October 08, 2012



Published August 29, 2012

“Georgia had a measles scare”

by Nathan’ette Burdine-Follow on Twitter@nbnylemagazine

            The measles virus is easy to catch, painful to have, but not so difficult to get rid of.  On July 3, 2012, the Georgia Department of Public Health released a press release titled, “Health officials investigating measles infection:  People with symptoms urged to contact healthcare provider,” warning individuals about a possible measles outbreak.  The disease was detected in an individual who resides in Atlanta.  The Georgia Department of Public Health and the Clayton County Board of Health advised individuals to contact their physician if they were having symptoms (running nose, cough, or fever) associated with the measles virus.  Those individuals who developed a body rash between July 3, 2012, and July 18, 2012, were encouraged to immediately contact their local physician.

According to the CDC, the measles is associated with the rubeola virus.  Two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is needed in order to provide complete protection against the virus.  Without the MMR vaccine, a person has a 90% chance of contracting the virus if he is in close contact with an infected individual.  Once the virus enters the body, it takes up station in the mucus of the nose or throat.  And whenever an infected person sneezes or coughs, he spreads the disease in the air.  A person who has not received his immunization will contract the disease by way of the air he breathes.  So if an individual is just out and about at the mall or park, he can contract the disease from an infected person.  A person can also contract the virus by touching a surface like a counter or door that an infected individual has touched.  According to the CDC, the virus can only survive on a surface for two hours.  After two hours on a surface, the virus ceases to exist. 

         Initially, an infected person may not know he has the virus.  According to the CDC, it takes between 7-14 days for the symptoms to appear.  And once the early symptoms appear, they are not identifiable to the point that they can be easily associated with the measles virus.  The early symptoms are coughing, a running nose, and a sore throat.  These symptoms are also symptoms of the common cold.  So an infected person may be more incline to go to the drug store for a bottle of Nyquil, and not to the doctor’s office for two doses of the MMR vaccine.  However, the symptoms become more pronounce as they progress.  As a result, the infected person’s outward appearance begins to look more like what the general public would associate with the measles virus.

The infected person looks worn out, has red swollen watery eyes, and Koplik spots.  According to the CDC, Koplik spots are located inside the infected person’s mouth.  The spots have a small white outside, with a bluish white center.  A red or reddish-brown rash is the last symptom to appear.  The rash first appears on the face, at the person’s hairline, and the rash progresses down to the feet.  Also, an individual with the rash could have an elevated temperature that reaches 104º Fahrenheit.  Although the virus can be treated with the MMR vaccine, a person could easily get permanent brain damage and die before he receives the treatment.  Specifically, the CDC notes that children tend to die from pneumonia, which is a complication of the measles virus.  Further, the CDC estimates that 30% of individuals who are infected will develop a complication from the measles virus.  The other complications include an ear infection, diarrhea, and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).  The complications occur more often in children under the age of 5 and adults over the age of 20.

According to the CDC, ear infections represent 10% of the cases and could result in a loss of hearing.  Diarrhea makes up about 8% of the cases.  The number of cases associated with encephalitis is very small, but the effect is great and evident in the impact on children and pregnant women.  According to the CDC, 0.1% of children infected with the measles virus get encephalitis.  Those who get encephalitis could have convulsions, lose their hearing, or mental retardation could occur.  A pregnant woman who has encephalitis could have a premature birth, a baby born underweight, or a miscarriage.  Therefore, individuals who recognized any early signs of the measles virus are encouraged to seek medical attention immediately in order to decrease the risk of having any of the complications associated with the virus. 

The Georgia Department of Public Health quoted Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal, who is the Director of Health Protection at the Georgia Department of Public Health, as saying, “Vaccination in the U.S. has been tremendous and most of us have no risk of measles infection.  And even for the small number of those who are not vaccinated or immune to measles, chance of infection is very small.”  The measles infection rate is low in the U.S. because of the country’s access to the MMR vaccine.  In fact, many states require that children be vaccinated before they enter childcare or kindergarten.  According to the CDC, children receive the first dose when they’re between 12-15 months, and the second dose comes 4 weeks after they receive the first dose.  Also, the second dose can be given when the child is between the ages of 4-6 years old.  Adults who are 19 and older receive one or two doses of the vaccine.  However, outside factors like stress, job, and lifestyle can affect a person’s body response to the virus and vaccine.  Therefore, the CDC recommends that adults consult with their physician to see if any other preventive measures should be taken.

According to the CDC, one of the main ways in which U.S. citizens contract the disease is by going overseas to countries with a high infection rate.  For instance, India is a country with a high infection rate.  The CDC estimates that there are approximately 164,000 deaths each year and that more than half of those deaths occur in India.  The CDC recommends that adults and children get vaccinated if they are traveling overseas.  The recommended dosage for adults is one or two, but they should consult with their physician to see if any other dosage is required.  Infants who are between 6-11 months old need at least one dose of the MMR vaccine.  Children who are between one year old or older need two doses of the vaccine.  The CDC states that the 2nd dose should be given 28 days after the 1st dose.  It must be noted that the Georgia Department of Public Health had not yet released information about how the individual contracted the disease.  An important fact the CDC mentions about measles is that it is a human disease and has not been found in animals.  So humans can only contract the disease by-way of other humans.






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