Thursday, February 12, 2015

On Call with Editor Donna Thomas

In recent months the media has reported a spike in Measles outbreaks in the U.S. Although there has only been only one suspected case in NJ, released by the New Jersey Department on Health last week, it is currently being investigated. The one year old child, who resides in Jersey City had not been vaccinated. The doctors at Pedimedica do not feel parents should become alarmed, however they stress the importance on having your child properly vaccinated for all recommended immunizations at the appropriate ages.

To learn more about the Measles and recommended vaccinations, we share with our readers an informative article from, the #1 most-trusted source for physician-reviewed information on children's health and parenting issues.

About Measles
Measles, also called rubeola, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that's caused by a virus. It causes a total-body skin rash and flu-like symptoms, including a fever, cough, and runny nose. Though rare in the United States, 20 million cases happen worldwide every year.
Since measles is caused by a virus, there is no specific medical treatment for it and the virus has to run its course. But a child who is sick should drink plenty of fluids, get lots of rest, and be kept from spreading the infection to others.

Signs and Symptoms
While measles is probably best known for its full-body rash, the first symptoms of the infection are usually a hacking cough, runny nose, high fever, and red eyes. Children who get the disease also may have Koplik's spots, small red spots with blue-white centers that appear inside the mouth.

The measles rash breaks out 3-5 days after symptoms start, and can coincide with high fevers up to 104°F (40°C). The red or reddish-brown rash usually first shows up as flat red spots on the forehead. It spreads to the rest of the face, then down the neck and torso to the arms, legs, and feet. The fever and rash gradually go away after a few days.
Measles is highly contagious — 90% of people who haven't been vaccinated for measles will get it if they are near an infected person. Measles spreads when people breathe in or have direct contact with virus-infected fluid, such as the droplets sprayed into the air when someone with measles sneezes or coughs. A person who is exposed to the virus might not show symptoms until 8-10 days later.

People with measles are contagious (can spread the disease) from 5 days before the rash appears until about 4 days after that, and are most contagious while they have a fever, runny nose, and cough.

Recent Outbreaks
Measles is very rare in the United States. Before measles vaccination became available in the 1960s, more than 500,000 cases were reported every year. Back then, about 500 people died of the disease each year, and around 4,000 people a year had encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from the disease.

Due to widespread immunizations, the number of U.S. measles cases declined steadily to a low of 37 people in 2004. From 2000 to 2007, only about 63 cases per year were reported.
But recent years have seen spikes in measles outbreaks, including 131 cases in the first half of 2008 and 644 cases in 2014. Most U.S. outbreaks begin with people who were infected outside of the country, with the disease spreading quickly in areas where too few people have received the vaccine. About 85% of people infected with measles were not immunized or their immunization status was unknown, although they were eligible to receive the vaccine.

The people at highest risk of getting measles during these outbreaks are infants (who aren't old enough to get the vaccine), pregnant women, and people with poor nutrition or weakened immune systems.The most important thing you can do to protect your kids from measles is to have them vaccinated according to the immunization schedule prescribed by your doctor.