No reason to risk measles infection

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March 13 turned out to be an unlucky day for a group of Eagle, Neb., third-grade students and staff.

Besides being inspired by the airplanes and rockets at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum in Ashland, they brought home the risk of contracting measles.

Public health officials informed staff and parents that group may have come in contact with someone infected with the highly contagious, viral disease, which can remain in the area for two hours.

According to the news release, the infected person arrived at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield on a Delta flight, at a motel, urgent care and hospital emergency room.

Once a common childhood disease, measles were nearly eliminated with widespread vaccination as promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine — for measles, mumps and rubella — by the time they are 6 years old.

Those most at risk are those who have had none or only one MMR dose, and symptoms include fever, runny nose, coughing, red eyes, sore throat and a rash, usually 7-14 days after exposure.

But there can be serious complications among at-risk groups such as babies younger than one-year-old, children with a poor diet, weakened immune system such as those with leukemia, teenagers and adults.

About one in every 15 children can suffer complications such as diarrhea and vomiting, dehydration, middle ear infection, eye infection, inflammation of the voice box, pneumonia, bronchitis and croup, seizures.

Less common are complications such a liver infection, damage to nerves and muscles of the eye, spinal cord and brain infection (meningitis or encephalitis).

Rarely, measles can cause vision loss, heart and nervous system problems and a fatal brain complication known as subacute sclerosing panencephalitis that can occur several years after measles.

Pregnant women who become infected with measles can suffer miscarriage or stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight and other complications.

About one in every 5,000 people who contract measles will die of the disease.

With the widespread availability of effective vaccinations, there’s no reason to risk it.

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