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By contactus@priority-pediatrics.com
February 10, 2019
Category: Infectious Disease
Tags: Autism   vaccine   measles   Contagious   Complications  

4 things everyone needs to know about measles

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

We are in the midst of a measles outbreak here in the US, with cases being reported in New York City, New York state, and Washington state. In 2018, preliminary numbers indicate that there were 372 cases of measles — more than triple the 120 cases in all of 2017 — and already 79 cases in the first month of 2019 alone. Here are four things that everyone needs to know about measles.

Measles is highly contagious

This is a point that can’t be stressed enough. A full 90% of unvaccinated people exposed to the virus will catch it. And if you think that just staying away from sick people will do the trick, think again. Not only are people with measles infectious for four days before they break out with the rash, the virus can live in the air for up to two hours after an infectious person coughs or sneezes. Just imagine: if an infectious person sneezes in an elevator, everyone riding that elevator for the next two hours could be exposed.

It’s hard to know that a person has measles when they first get sick

The first symptoms of measles are a high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis), which could be confused with any number of other viruses, especially during cold and flu season. After two or three days people develop spots in the mouth called Koplik spots, but we don’t always go looking in our family members’ mouths. The characteristic rash develops three to five days after the symptoms begin, as flat red spots that start on the face at the hairline and spread downward all over the body. At that point you might realize that it isn’t a garden-variety virus — and at that point, the person would have been spreading germs for four days.

Measles can be dangerous

Most of the time, as with other childhood viruses, people weather it fine, but there can be complications. Children less than 5 years old and adults older than 20 are at highest risk of complications. Common and milder complications include diarrhea and ear infections (although the ear infections can lead to hearing loss), and one out of four will need to be hospitalized, but there also can be serious complications:

  • Five percent of people with measles get pneumonia. This is the most common cause of death from the illness.
  • One out of 1,000 get encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, that can lead to seizures, deafness, or even brain damage.
  • One to two out of 1,000 will die.
  • There is another possible complication that can occur seven to 10 years after infection, more commonly when people get the infection as infants. It’s called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis or SSPE. While it is rare (four to 11 out of 100,000 infections), it is fatal.

Vaccination prevents measles

The measles vaccine, usually given as part of the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, can make all the difference. One dose is 93% effective in preventing illness, and two doses gets that number up to 97%. In general the first dose is usually given at 12 to 15 months and the second dose at 4 to 6 years, but it can be given as early as 6 months if there is a risk of exposure (as an extra dose — it doesn’t count as the first of two doses and has to be given after 12 months), and the second dose can be given as soon as 28 days after the first.

The MMR is overall a very safe vaccine. Most side effects are mild, and it does not cause autism. Most children in the US are vaccinated, with 91% of 19-to-35 month-olds having at least one dose and about 94% of those entering kindergarten having two doses. To create “herd immunity” that helps protect those who can’t get the vaccine (such as young infants or those with weak immune systems), you need about 95% vaccination, so the 94% isn’t perfect — and in some states and communities, that number is even lower. Most of the outbreaks we have seen over the years have started in areas where there are high numbers of unvaccinated children.

If you have questions about measles or the measles vaccine, talk to your doctor. The most important thing is that we keep every child, every family, and every community safe.

By contactus@priority-pediatrics.com
June 11, 2018
Category: Infectious Disease
Tags: Influenza   Flu   flu shot   vaccine   immunization   death   epidemic  

 

This Year’s Flu Season Killed Record Number Of Children.

The Washington Post (6/8) said a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report indicates that the flu “killed 172 children between October and May, making this season one of the deadliest since federal health authorities began tracking pediatric deaths 14 years ago.” The new figure “exceeds the 171 child deaths reported for 2012-2013, the previous record for a regular season,” according to the Post, which added, “Only the 2009 swine flu pandemic, which killed 358 children, was worse.” Daniel Jernigan, head of the CDC’s influenza division, explained that the number of deaths “is a record number since we’ve been keeping track, outside of the pandemic” and is considered to be an undercount because it only includes cases confirmed by laboratories listed on death certificates and reported to the CDC.

        The AP (6/8) reported, “The past flu season wasn’t a pandemic, but it was long – 19 weeks” – and “also was unusually intense, with high levels of illness reported in nearly every state for weeks on end.

        Newsweek (6/8) reported that according to the CDC, “About 80 percent of the fatalities were among children who hadn’t been vaccinated.”

 

Let's all hope the flu vaccine picked for next epidemic season will be right on and effective.

Dr.  T

 

By contactus@priority-pediatrics.com
February 03, 2017
Category: Infectious Disease
Tags: Influenza   Flu   flu season   flu shot   vaccine   preparedness  

As cold weather continues, clothing layers increase, scarves are pulled tighter, and noses become redder. This time of year can also bring the dreaded running nose, scratchy throat, cough, body aches, and headache of the seasonal flu. As you fretfully try to protect yourself from the winter season with warmer clothes and hot drinks, are you also taking steps to protect yourself from the bigger threat of the flu?

Flu season is here, are you ready to fight the flu?

An annual flu vaccine is the first and most important step to preventing the flu. It's still not too late to get protected. Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine. It takes 2 weeks for protection from a flu vaccine to develop in the body, so you should get vaccinated soon after the flu vaccine becomes available.

While you may be stocking up on hand sanitizer, avoiding crowded events, and distancing yourself from friends or acquaintances who let out a sniffle or two, if you haven’t gotten your seasonal flu vaccine, you haven’t taken the most important step to protect yourself from the flu.

Getting your flu vaccine is easy, having the flu is not.mother taking her child's temperature

Everywhere from your doctor’s office to your local pharmacy, and even the news and social media networks, are sharing important reminders about getting the flu vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine can take just a few minutes of your day. Getting the flu, however, can put you out of work or school for days, sometimes weeks. Taking a little time for your health now could save you from missing important events, work deadlines, or opportunities in the future.

 

Do your part for those you love.

When you get a flu vaccine, you are not only protecting yourself from the flu, but you are also protecting the people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness. As the holiday season approaches, you may be around young children, older family members, or others who have a high risk of contracting the flu or developing complications from the flu.

The flu is a serious illness that can have life-threatening complications for some people. The flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths each year. Some people, such as older people, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Get your flu shot to protect yourself and those around you. Do your part to protect the important people in your life.

Avoid germs during flu season.

While getting a yearly vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting against flu, there are additional steps you can take to avoid germs and the flu. Here are a few tips:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. Keep your germs to yourself.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.doctor giving a man a flu shot
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.


Don’t know where to get your flu shot?
Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, and college health centers, by many employers, and even some schools. You don’t have to see your doctor to get a flu shot! There are plenty of locations available that provide vaccinations.

This Vaccine Locator is a useful tool for finding vaccine in your area.

Don’t wait until you are lying sick in bed to wish you had gotten a flu shot. There are steps you can take to prevent the flu and protect those around you. Get your flu vaccine today, and remind someone you care about to do the same. As long as flu viruses are circulating, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine!

Posted on  by Blog Administrator of the CDCCategories FluGeneralPreparednessPrevention/VaccinationPublic Health

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