Originally Posted by newmum35
I'd love to know what people think about this excerpt:
"If the virus enters an area where nobody has ever been exposed or vaccinated, the results can be devastating. An outbreak in Cuba in 1592 killed nearly two-thirds of the native population of the island. Two years later another outbreak in Honduras killed half of all the people in that country. In the 1850s about 20% of the people in Hawaii died from an outbreak of measles."
Any thoughts on whether or not this is true, and if so, what could the reason be? Do you think those people were severely vitamin A deficient?
It is very much true. However, while it is an interesting sidebar, it is not really relevant to the current situation.
Europeans had been dealing with measles and other European diseases for thousands upon thousands of years. Over that time the population grew more resistant to measles by means of natural selection - those who were the weakest at fighting it off were the most likely to die and so not pass on their genes, while those with genetic factors that helped them through the illness passed those on to their children. Also, most people got it as children, which was fortunate as like chicken pox, measles is a lot harder on adults who get it than children.
Then Europeans came to the Americas where there was no natural resistance built up over thousands of years and the adults were still vulnerable as they had not been exposed to measles as children. The results were absolutely devastating.
But our population still has all our genetic resistance and the vast majority of people are protected either by having had measles in their youth or vaccination, so no, no worry that that will be happening here.
Still, measles can kill as many 1 or 2 or so per thousand cases in the first world, but still, to put it in perspective my kid's school has close to 500 students, some with other illnesses or underlying conditions as all schools do, and if we were back in the times when measles spread freely and everyone could be expected to get it at some point or another, well, to lose even just one of those kids as would be expected statistically would be quite the challenge. And there are many more complications which are more common than death and can result in the need for hospitalization and potential permanent effects such as damaging eyesight.
As I said, most people here are protected, and with any luck the infected passenger didn't pass it on to anyone vulnerable. Also, there are indeed many worse diseases than measles. But having a highly contagious disease in an airport is a bit of a disease prevention nightmare as it has the potential to send it off in so many directions at once, and I can see why they do want to track down potential cases that might have resulted from this so as to try and keep it from spreading at their destinations.