Measles is a disease that many people hear about, but pay little attention to its impact on human society. The cause of this illness is the measles virus, whose natural hosts are humans. The virus does not seem to survive in other organisms including animals. Currently, measles affects 20 million people in the world and most of them are in Asia or Africa. In 1990, the total number of deaths from this illness stood at 545,000. However, the figure dropped continuously since then with about 96,000 deaths yearly.
Unfortunately, people do not pay much attention to measles anymore because of the number of deaths from it are relatively low as compared to other diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and obesity. However, they quickly forget that measles wiped out entire populations in the past. For example, measles killed 33% and 70% of the Fiji and the Andamanese people respectively in the late 1800s and early 1900s. You should learn more about this deadly disease that affects the developed world periodically. Here are some facts on it.
The prevention of measles is possible
The best possible way of preventing this highly contagious disease is through vaccination. Children can receive a vaccination as soon as they get to 12 months. Giving a child this vaccine before that time will render it ineffective because the child’s immune system is still not mature enough for it.
This preventative measure is one of the reasons why deaths attributable to this disease are on the decline. Unfortunately, not all the vaccinations are successful. Children suffering from HIV or those living in areas where the disease is quite common often experience a lower rate of success with this preventative measure.
The symptoms associated with measles
It is important to note that the measles virus spreads through the cough or sneeze of infected individuals. There is no treatment for this disease once developed. Common symptoms include a fever, cough, and red rashes. Measles patients also have red eyes.
Additionally, the signs of it include sneezing, a cold and some spots in the patient’s mouth. These symptoms often disappear with rest and supportive therapy after three weeks or so. However, complications arise in some cases leading to ear infections, pneumonia, brain inflammation, and bronchitis. Brain inflammation is particularly dangerous because the mortality rate for this measles complication is 15%. Other potentially fatal consequences of measles infections include panencephalitis and encephalitis both of which are normally fatal.
Though the overall number of deaths from measles is decreasing each year, it still remains the leading cause of death among diseases that are preventable through vaccination. Lack of proper healthcare and malnutrition in developing nations exacerbates the problem. Moreover, the developing social and political resistance among communities to these vaccines in the US and Europe is making the prevention of this disease through vaccination difficult.