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Americas have become the first region to eliminate measles
Americas have emerged to become the first region in the world to be completely free of measles. After carrying out a vaccination drive for 22 years, success has been achieved in the total elimination of this contagious disease from the U.S.A.
The milestone has been confirmed after no cases of measles was recorded over three years in America. This is a historic achievement, according to the World Health Organization.
Facts on the elimination of measles in America
Measles remains as a fatal death-causing disease in children all over the world. More than 250000 people all over the world have been infected with the disease in the last year. The major cases of occurrence were mainly based in Asia and Africa.
According to the WHO, the virus is capable of causing severe complications such as diarrhea, respiratory infection, and dehydration. It is estimated that over 300 people die because of this contagious disease every day. In America, the last measles breakout occurred in 2002 in Venezuela. This year, the region has been announced to be free of measles.
Several factors such as conflicts made it hard to access certain communities. This slowed down the process of verification. However, there is a risk of imported measles to spread out in America again. People still require vaccination so that elimination may continue.
Before the beginning of a separate worldwide vaccination campaign against measles in the 1980s, 2.6 million deaths were recorded every year. Out of these, 1200 cases were discovered in America. Measles accounts for being the fifth disease to be eliminated in America after smallpox (1971), (poliomyelitis 1994) and rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (2015).
Measles – Overview
Measles is an infectious disease which is caused by a virus. The symptoms of this contagious disease start appearing after a week and a half of the infection. They last for two weeks, generally. A measles infection cannot be treated, but the symptoms may be managed. In many cases, severe complications leading to death is possible.
Pregnant women exposed to measles are at the risk of complication such as stillbirth and miscarriage. Measles can be prevented easily by the means of a vaccine, which is available everywhere. Measles is a form of viral infection, which spreads easily from person to person.
The initial symptoms of measles start showing after an incubation period. This might be about 10 days. Other initial symptoms such as red eyes, high fever, gray spots appearing on the mouth or throat and sensitivity to light are likely to be experienced.
Within some days, a red-brown rash comprising of spot appears. They start from the ears and spreads to the neck, head, and body. Anyone who experiences symptoms of this contagious disease should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
This will provide early diagnosis. The chances of worsening of the condition and spreading to other people are prevented.
This contagious disease spread very fast and easily. It can be transmitted via coughing and sneezing. Indirect contact by touching a surface that is infected by an infected person touching is also possible. The virus is capable of surviving on one surface for many hours making transmission easy and likely.
Measles can be contagious from when the earliest of symptoms appear. This nature lasts many days after the appearance of the rash. You should keep away from school, work, and any public places during the period.
This contagious disease can cause disastrous complications. In people who have weak immune systems, fighting the virus becomes a more difficult task.
Any person who has not taken the MMR vaccine may develop this disorder. The vaccine can be taken any time after turning 13 months in age. A boost is also essential after some years. The vaccine should be taken if there is an enhanced risk of being transmitted by this contagious disease.
The virus causing measles cannot be treated fully. It usually resolves on its own within two weeks. However, the symptoms can be managed. You should avoid exposure to light. Take medications to manage the pain and fever. You must drink a lot of water and use a damp ball of cotton to clean the area around your eyes.
Sometimes, the complications of the disorder may lead to hospitalization. There might be serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis. Young children below the age of one are more likely to get measles.
There are various symptoms of measles, appearing in two stages:
These symptoms appear within one one after getting infected. They may be:
- Flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, body aches, and fever. Fatigue, irritability, and malaise are also likely.
- Red eyes.
- An enhanced sensitivity to light.
- A low appetite and food aversion.
- The development of gray-white spots around the mouth.
Measles rash accounts for being the second stage of symptoms. They may last for a week. These symptoms appear from two to four weeks after the initial symptoms are observed. This is a rash of red and brown spots, generally beginning from the back of the ears. They gradually spread to other parts of the body.
People who are at a risk of developing complications from measles include:
- Children who have a very weak immune system, such as children suffering from HIV or leukemia.
- Children having a poor regular diet.
- Teenagers and adults.
- Pregnant women.
- Middle ear infection and ear ache.
- Conjunctivitis, an eye infection.
- Laryngitis or throat inflammation.
- Convulsions resulting from fever such as febrile seizures.
- Hepatitis, a liver infection.
- Strabismus or the misalignment of the eyes.
- Meningitis or the infection of the layering present around the brain and vertebrae.
- Encephalitis, a brain infection.
- Optic neuritis, an infection of the optic nerve and eye disorders which may lead to blindness.
- Several heart problems.
- Problems with the nervous system.
- Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis or SSPE which is a fatal form of brain complication.
Complications in pregnant women
Pregnant women should consult a doctor immediately when they come in contact with a person with measles. The complications include:
- Premature birth.
- Low birth weight of the baby.
- Chances of miscarriage.
There are several ways of treating the symptoms of measles. They are as follows:
- Medicines for controlling pain and fever. These medicines also help in giving relief to aches and pains. Children below the age of 16 should not be given aspirin. Before starting to take medicines for the treatment of measles, you should consult a doctor.
- For curing flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and a runny rose, you can use a humidifier and steam inhalation. Some hot drinks made up of lemon or honey can be effective for easy breathing.
- Remaining properly hydrated is very important for comfort and reducing dehydration because of fever. Staying properly hydrated also helps in easing the discomfort caused by dry coughs.
- Soothing your sore eyes is an effective treatment therapy. You have to use a cotton ball in order to remove crusty buildups in the eyes. You should keep your room dark as it will help with light sensitivity.