The importance of getting vaccinated against the measles.
Nearly half a century after the measles vaccine became routine for U.S. children, few people remember how dangerous the disease can be. But each year, the virus — which is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes — still kills more than 120,000 people around the globe who haven’t been immunized.
Given today’s interconnected world of international travelers, it is vital for parents to get their children vaccinated against the measles, to ensure their health and everyone else’s, said UC Irvine Health pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Behnoosh Afghani.
“Measles is a deadly disease and one of the most contagious,” said Afghani, “It’s associated with serious complications. In addition to rash, diarrhea and high fevers, dehydration is very common.” About one patient in 20 who contract measles develop pneumonia; one in 1,000 measles patients develop encephalitis and one or two in 1,000 patients die, she added.
When at least 95 percent of a given population is immunized, the risk of measles spreading is very low. However, in recent years, unfounded fear that autism is linked to the measles vaccine or to combination vaccines has led to lower immunization rates in parts of the United States.
“Because of the decrease in vaccination rates, we are seeing more cases of the measles,” Afghani said. “Parents should look at the scientific evidence and sources rather than listen to hearsay. By not vaccinating, parents put their own child and other children at risk of getting the disease.”