Measles hovers at the threshold of our home; let’s join together and give it a collective shove.
While much less common than in the past, the Measles virus still pops up here and there in our country, causing disease that puts about 25% of those who get infected into the hospital. It can cause a devastating brain infection for one in a thousand, but the primary way it inflicts its damage is by actively suppressing our immune system. The virus stuns, or inactivates, our white blood cells such that they become unable to protect the body. As a result, one becomes vulnerable to a variety of bacterial infections.
The most common cause of death from Measles is bacterial pneumonia. Meanwhile, it is one of the most transmissible viruses known. In other words, it is extremely, extremely contagious– possibly the most contagious germ there is.
Worldwide, Measles is a big problem. Did you know that as recently as 2000, Measles was the number one cause of vaccine preventable deaths, and the fifth leading cause of deaths overall, in children less than five years old? That makes me pause. That’s a lot of children who die.
And the thing is, no one needs to die from Measles. No one. The Measles vaccine is arguably the most effective vaccine modern medicine has to offer, and what’s more, it confers lifelong immunity. In other words, the vaccine protects you, completely and forever.
When I think about Measles, I hope for the day when it is just a memory, a disease that once was and is no longer. This vision is not far-fetched or out of reach. In fact, The World Health Organization believes the Measles virus can be eradicated from the Earth. The virus has no animal reservoirs, which means that if it is not in humans causing disease, it has no place to hide. If humans are vaccinated, it has nowhere to go.
It can be gone, it is up to us. Vaccinate yourself, vaccinate your kids; let’s take that next step and be free of this disease. Let’s finally give Measles the boot.