Prevention of Measles

Prevention measles is possible. In fact, theoretically measles can be eradicated from the face of Earth by use of highly effective measles vaccine. In many countries (such as United States), measles is almost non-existent (no new cases diagnosed in local population). However, measles can still occur in such countries by way of importing the disease by a traveler going to that country from a measles endemic area or by some other means, although these measles infections are not contracted locally. With combined effort of all the nations, one day, hopefully we will be able to eradicate measles from this planet, as we have done for smallpox.

If someone in your household has measles or someone close to you get measles infection, you need to take precautions, such as

  • Vaccination: make sure everybody in your house are vaccinated, if they are already not vaccinated, if anyone at your house has measles. The vaccine should be taken as early as possible, preferably within 72 hours for better effectiveness. Vaccination after exposure to measles virus may not prevent the infection/disease, but it can certainly reduce severity of the illness.
  • Isolation of the patient of measles is essential, because it is highly contagious disease. Rate of infection among contacts is as high as 90%. Patients remain contagious four days before appearing skin rash and remain contagious for four days after appearing of skin rash. Hence, isolation is required for this time to prevent spread of the disease. All possible contacts with others should be avoided during these eight days as much as possible.

Every child should be vaccinated to prevent spread of measles. This is important for mainly two reasons,

  1. Preserving as well as promoting/strengthening the herd immunity against measles. If vaccination rate is more than 90% in a country/region, the disease almost disappear, because new infections can be effectively prevented. The non-vaccinated individuals also do not get infection because of what is known as herd immunity. To maintain herd immunity, as many children and adults as possible should be vaccinated.
  2. Vaccination of all children is essential to prevent comeback of measles in an area/country, where the disease is almost eradicated (no new/fresh cases occur from local source of infection). If vaccination rate falls, measles make a comeback easily. Hence it is important to vaccinate as many children and adults as possible.

We all should remember that, full prevention of measles is possible and practicable and cost effective. The measles vaccine is highly effective (single dose is 91% effective and double/two doses is 97% effective) and very little side effects if any. The report of connection of autism with MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccine was erroneous and should not prevent from getting your child vaccinated.

 

Image courtesy of [arztsamui] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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