Measles Outbreak in Northwestern U.S. Underlines
Importance of Vaccinating Children

Governor Declares A State of Emergency

BY ALLISON KOZICHAROW; EDITED BY BERNICE BORN

A measles outbreak this week in Oregon quickly spread to Washington State where the governor there declared a state of emergency due to the rising number of cases of measles, almost all in children.

 

“Vaccines are among the most powerful innovations in the history of humankind — up to 3 million lives are saved every year thanks to safe and effective vaccines. But there are still millions of children worldwide who don’t receive these life-saving tools. …We must fight myth and misinformation with science and evidence. …Vaccines work.”
— World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

In 1963 measles was the leading cause of child death worldwide. In 2000 the United States declared measles to be eradicated because of the country’s vaccination program. So why is measles making a comeback now in Oregon, Washington and elsewhere?

 

The answer is that laws in many states, such as Oregon and Washington, allow parents to opt out of mandatory vaccinations for their children, leading to outbreaks across the nation.

 

WiRED International stresses the importance of immunizations in its Measles Module and in many of its other Health Learning Center modules. Not only do vaccines protect the individual, but they also protect the entire community through “herd or community immunity.” That is, when enough people are vaccinated against a disease, all members of the community are less likely to contract the infection.

 

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “Vaccines are among the most powerful innovations in the history of humankind —up to 3 million lives are saved every year thanks to safe and effective vaccines. But there are still millions of children worldwide who don’t receive these life-saving tools. …We must fight myth and misinformation with science and evidence. …Vaccines work.”

 

WiRED will continue to monitor the cases of measles stateside and will keep spreading the notion of community immunity worldwide through its health learning training in underserved communities and through its upcoming community health worker program.

 

 

 

 


You can download the module mentioned in this story, and all 400+ of WiRED’s health modules, through WiRED’s Health Module Access Program (HealthMAP) by clicking here. This easy-to-use free program will enable you to create your own customized collection of health learning modules. You can learn more about HealthMAP through WiRED's animation.

 

 


What Is Measles?

 

Measles or rubeola is a highly contagious viral disease that affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of an infected person, and is one of the few truly airborne diseases. Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10 to 12 days after infection, include high fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downward.

 

Measles can be prevented only by receiving the MMR vaccine, formulated to protect against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). There is no specific treatment for measles, and most people recover within two to three weeks. However, particularly in malnourished children and in people with reduced immunity, measles can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia. When people die from measles, it is often from pneumonia and brain inflammation. Ninety-five percent of deaths from measles occur in developing countries with high levels of malnutrition and a lack of adequate health care.

 

 

 

 

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