Hello Dr. Sears,
I would like to know your opinion on measles. I realize there are factors such as case severity and other immo-compromising conditions that effect individual outcomes. But in general, how serious in the measles really?
We live in a very international area (everyone from diplomats to refugees come here). There are outbreaks of measles here. I have a 4yo and a 20mo. We selectively vax and have not done the measles so far. The 4 yo goes to school so there is a likelihood of her bringing home the measels. The ped I went to for my younger daughter basically tried to scare me into vaxing her. She went on describing cases of adults who became paraplegic after having the measles, one baby died in the region last year. I have read many personal stories however and also looked at stats and considered the times before the vax was really given. The majority (not all) seem to point ot the measles not being the huge killer that some docs and vax companies make it out to be. I have also read multiple cases of people who were vaxed and got the measles anyway. Again to me this make me think I would be putting my children at risk withthe vax for a disease the vax may not, in the end, prevent.
It just seems to me that it is a survivable disease. More serious than many other childhood diseases like rubella or chicken pox, but my gut still tells me that them getting this would most likely be a good thing as it would provide life long immunity. I would really like some professional opinion without fear mongering frankly. Are my kids too young, should I really be concerned?
For the record, our general plan right now is to do the MMR diseases when the girls are older (teens) if they don't get it before then. But nothing is set in stone.
Thank you for your time.
Measles is a virus that travels throughout the body and causes a fever, rash (red, round bumps and spots all over the body), red eyes, runny nose, and cough. The rash can look similar to rashes symptomatic of other diseases, so it’s not easy for a doctor, much less a parent, to recognize. A blood test can be done to conﬁrm the diagnosis. Measles is transmitted like the common cold, and infection usually creates lifelong immunity.
A mild case of measles would involve the above symptoms, the child would feel ill and be house-bound for about a week, then life would return to normal without any lasting problems. 95% of cases probably run this type of course.
A moderate case of the disease would involve some complications, such as an ear infection (easily treated with antibiotics) or pneumonia (more serious, but generally treatable with oral antibiotics). These are fairly uncommon, maybe 5%. The high fever can make a child feel miserable for several days.
Severe cases of measles are few and far between, but when they happen they can be very scary. The most serious complication is encephalitis or encephalopathy, in which the brain becomes inflamed and dysfunctional. Another complication is severe pneumonia that interferes with lung function and oxygenation. Such rare cases require intensive medical care with life-support while the infection runs its course. High-dose vitamin A therapy can be used to lessen the duration and severity of the disease. Approximately 1 in 1000 measles cases is fatal.
I generally consider measles to be a non-serious disease. I guess you don't live in the U.S.? Because if you do, your doctor is lying to you. No one has died of measles in at least 5 years, maybe 10 or more, in the U.S.
Thank you for your info. You are right, we do not live in the US. I also have no idea what the situation was where the baby died last year here. Was it a normal, healthy, 11 month old or a preemie with immature lungs or a baby who arrived from another country where it had a condition that went undiagnosed? I have no idea. I am comfortable not vaxing right now but sometimes I just need a different perspective to clear things up for me. It may have been that I really was underestimating the risk. But I don't think we are =)