The United States was considered to be completely measles-free by the medical experts, due to the medical staff performing large scale vaccination operations. But 2015 is shaping up to be the first year in two decades to change that, with over 64 confirmed cases of the disease this month only.
The main risk factor in the possible measles outbreak is the fact that young doctors might not properly diagnose the measles’ symptoms and not treat it accordingly. This fact may provide an answer for the current outbreaks happening at Disneyland and spreading to other 11 states, says Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health. Also, the fact that the disease was supposed to be extinct for over 20 years now, interferes with the doctors’ ability to recognize the symptoms and leads to a serious underestimation of the importance of measles vaccination.
Dr. Julia Shaklee Sammons recently wrote an essay on the matter, urging doctors all over U.S. to be more alert and prepare to diagnose the disease accordingly, considering the rising rates of the measles cases in the country. She specifically asked medical staff to “maintain a high level of suspicion for measles” and be familiar with its clinical symptoms.
The key in stopping a measles epidemic is to start treating it in its early stages, which can be quite difficult, considering that its symptoms are similar to other diseases. The contagious stage takes place even before symptoms appear, the virus inhabiting the organism and infecting others even four days before that. Doctors are advised to be on the lookout for fever, pink eyes and rashes.
Another factor in the rapid spread of the infectious virus are the parents who refuse or postpone their children’s vaccinations, thus actively participating in the sudden increase of measles infections. The vaccination percentage required for the “herd immunity” phenomenon to take place is 92 percent of the total population of a community, and there are many counties who figure under that threshold. Unfortunately, the number of people who have opted-out of the measles (or any other) vaccination has risen dangerously during the last seven years. The reason behind this increase is the unfounded correlation between vaccines and autism.
Therefore, when parents decide not to vaccinate their children, such diseases come back in a new deadly wave. Dr. Besser stresses the fact that, before measles vaccination, 500 people died each year, ranking in the top of global killers of children.
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