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Measles Outbreak: Questions and Concerns

Measles      Recently, the measles virus has made a comeback in the United States.  Although a vaccine has been available for years, outbreaks still occur from time to time, and it another one has emerged.  What exactly is measles, what does it do to us, and why has it come back?

     Measles ― also called rubeola ― is a viral infection that can be very serious and even fatal for children.  Although it has been shrinking in numbers for many years, its yearly death rate is more than 100,000 people, most of whom are under the age of 5.  According to the CDC, It can be spread via breathing, coughing, physical contact and sneezing, making it extremely contagious. Symptoms, which include a fever, dry cough, sore throat, inflamed eyes, and the infamous skin rash, don’t appear until about Day 10-14 after contact.  Risk factors include being unvaccinated, travelling to countries where the disease is common, and having a vitamin A deficiency.

     Measles can be prevented by isolating the infected from others, due to how contagious it is.  The vaccination can greatly protect people from becoming infected, and it is available for even infants.  Currently, there is no specifically recommended treatment. However, according to, doctors recommend a great amount of rest, and drinking water.  Symptoms usually go away after at least 1 week. Other measures include remaining at a cool temperature, pain relievers, and taking aspirin if over 16 years of age.

     But why, exactly, has measles made a comeback not only in the United States, but across the world as well?  The CDC notes that one reason that the majority of people claim is the growing anti-vaccination movement. Believing that vaccinations cause many other problems, many worried parents refuse to vaccinate themselves and their children.  Despite mountains of evidence suggesting otherwise, these parents refuse to change their mind. This has resulted in many children being vaccinated, without their parents knowing, or another relative helping them out. If this is the true cause of the comeback of measles, then many counties, states and nations are fighting against it.  At the time of writing this, Italy and many US states, including California and Oregon, have banned unvaccinated children from attending school. This situation has once again raised the question on whether or not vaccines should be enforced by law.

     Another reason that’s more focused towards the United States is the claim that immigrants are bringing diseases over from Latin America.  There is reason to believe this; thousands of immigrants, both legal and illegal, cross the border every day. So there could be a chance of diseases passing through into America.  However, research by the World Health Organization suggests that nations such as Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras are at roughly the same numbers when it comes to measles infection rate.  In fact, some of our neighbors are at even lower percentages.

     At the end of the day, what truly matters is the fact that a disease that is very much preventable, has come back.  We were able to wipe out this disease before, and we can certainly do it again. No matter how long it takes, we will soon surpass this disease yet again.

Sam Johnson