Most people think of measles as being a childhood disease from the past but already in 2015, there have been 84 confirmed cases across 14 states. As such, the question now is the measles outbreak reaching epidemic levels.
According to public health officials, the measles outbreak at Disneyland could be where it all started. After all, people come from all over the world to enjoy this Disney theme part, making it the ideal place for measles to be contracted and spread. On the positive side, this outbreak might prompt more parents to get their children vaccinated.
For one reason or another, many parents have prevented their children from receiving the measles vaccination in the past several years. The primary concern is that the vaccination triggers autism, although there is no scientific proof of this being the case. Even so, without the vaccination, children are at risk.
As stated by Mark Schleiss, pediatric infectious disease doctor with the University of Minnesota, the United States might be on the threshold of a measles outbreak, something seen in many cities. However, perhaps the focus should be more on the safety of vaccinations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed the 84 cases in 14 states through the period of January 1 to January 28. The majority of the people infected has been to Disneyland or were in contact with someone who was. At this rate, the number of cases is what officials typically see in an entire year. Of the patients who have been infected, roughly 15% have been hospitalized.
For measles, 2014 was an extremely bad year. The problem was driven by large measles outbreaks in Asia but also a growing number of children without proper vaccines. In fact, last year there were 644 people diagnosed with the virus. While one of these individuals might have started the Disneyland effects, officials state that the measles from the theme park could just have easily been associated with someone visiting from overseas.
Every year, approximately 20 million people throughout the world get measles, with about 145,000 dying. Even at those numbers, it was not until the outbreak at Disneyland that measles began getting significant attention. Paul Offit, director of Philadelphia’s Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital said that this week has consisted of non-stop interviews pertaining to measles.
Since the outbreak, dozens of students in California who were not vaccinated against measles were sent home. There has also been more education provided that focuses specifically on how measles are spread and how dangerous they can be.
The recommendation from the CDC is that around one year of age, children should receive their first measles shot. Then between four and six years of age, a second measles shot is needed. One of the challenges is that the current generations of parents never experienced measles as baby boomers did so they do not understand the dangers or the importance of vaccines. They also face myths about the vaccine and autism.
Measles make children miserable but they also pose serious health risks. For instance, children can run a fever anywhere from 103 to 105 degrees, have chronic ear infections, lose appetite, become dehydrated, and struggle with diarrhea. Using Disneyland as the platform, medical professionals have the opportunity to better educate parents.