What’s Going Around – Measles
Washington State just declared a medical state of emergency due to an outbreak of measles. Nearly all victims were unvaccinated. Measles is still common in other parts of the world, so unvaccinated travelers bringing it back are the most common source of U.S. outbreaks. Despite its effectiveness, some people choose not to vaccinate their children for religious or other reasons. Some unvaccinated children will be protected by ‘herd immunity”. But if community vaccination rates drop below ninety five percent, outbreaks occur.
Signs and symptoms: Fever, cough, and inflammation in the eyes are followed by a rash that spreads over most of the body. Small red lesions in the mouth, called Koplick’s Spots, are characteristic. Corneal ulcers can damage the eye. About a third develop ear infections or pneumonia. Rare cases can lead to meningitis, permanent brain damage, and death.
What to do: There is no specific treatment. Supportive care includes fluids, rest, and time. Prevention through vaccination is preferable.
Thought for the day: Today’s outbreak is in another state. But it could hit us if we don’t vaccinate.
What’s Going Around is contributed by family practice doctor Kyle Scarborough, M.D. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.