Measles Outbreak Highlights Debate Over Vaccines
Feb 16, 2015 08:36AM
● By Amy
By Dr. Josh Prickett, Medical Director, North Tarrant E-Care Emergency Center
The measles outbreak that started in California is shining a spotlight on vaccines, and whether or not parents should have the right to decide to have their children immunized. While there had been no cases reported in Texas as of February 9, the professionals with E-Care Emergency Centers feel it is very important that you keep apprised of the latest developments.
The outbreak started at Disneyland and has since spread to 102 cases in 14 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The majority of the cases were adults. The director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said it was not clear how the outbreak began, but the assumption is that someone contracted the measles overseas and visited the park.
Information About Measles
Measles is extremely contagious. If someone has the disease and comes in contact with someone else who has not been immunized, that un-immunized person could have as much as a 90 percent chance of catching it.
The symptoms include a distinctive rash that occurs throughout the body, as well as a cough, runny nose and fever. Symptoms can appear anywhere from 1-3 weeks after being exposed. In some cases, children will experience serious problems –including infection, high fever and dehydration – and have to go to the hospital. There have been instances, however, where children can develop severe pneumonia or even brain swelling, known as encephalitis.
There were 644 cases of the measles in 27 states last year, the most since 2000.
The measles vaccine was first available in the U.S. in 1963. It was originally given in one dose, but in 1989 the recommendation changed to two doses. According to the Texas Department of Health Services the incidence of measles peaked in the state at 85,862 in 1958. However, cases dropped by 99.9% after the introduction of the vaccine. There were 10 cases reported in the state in 2014.
Back in the 1990s, though, a study was published in Britain linking the measles vaccine to autism. Although the study was later debunked, the damage had been done. Even though several studies later came out finding no link between autism and the vaccine, several parents still refuse to allow their children to get a measles shot.
In fact, according to a February 6 article in the Dallas Morning News, more parents than ever in Texas are deciding their children should not have any vaccinations at all. The article reported that 38,197 children attended state schools without the required vaccinations during the 2013-14 school year, compared to 2,314 during the 2003-04 school year.
Please do not get caught up in the anti-vaccination hysteria. Have your child vaccinated against measles if you have not done so already. There will likely be mild side effects, such as a mild rash or a small fever, but they should clear up in a week.
If you would like to learn more from doctors near Southlake about the measles vaccination, or you want to learn more about the disease, call E-Care Emergency Centers at 817-281-7277 If you ever need emergency or urgent care, use this convenient form to check in online.
Josh Prickett, MD, is currently medical director for North Tarrant location of E-Care Emergency Center in North Richland Hills. Dr. Prickett graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School and has been practicing emergency care in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Texas since 1989. He has been married to his wife Carin for 30 years. They have a son Jonathan, a daughter Whitney, and a son-in-law John. Dr. Prickett and his family are active in their church and love being a part of the Southlake community.