By Samuetta Hill Drew
Summer is the time of year schools are closed and adults plan a family vacation. These summer trips are usually a lot of fun and include traveling to places like your grandparents’ house, amusement parks, as well as other countries. It is indeed a fun time of the year for family outings and trips.
Where safety is always a concern when planning your family vacations, this year there is another safety risk which must be put in the preparation equation, especially if you’re traveling with children of all ages (infants, toddlers and/or older children).
This safety risk is the recent measles (rubeola) epidemic which is frequently being reported on by the national and local news outlets. Measles is such a serious topic and I am not a licensed doctor or health care professional. Therefore, I will use some direct quotes from experts in this field in my articles pertaining to this topic.
References from experts like the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC); Dr. Sean O’Leary a pediatric infectious diseases physician at the University of Colorado, Seattle Children’s Hospital; Research and Foundation’s Dr. Wendy Swanson, MD, MBE, along with other professional experts in the healthcare profession.
The depth of the information to help you protect your child(ren) during your summer vacations both nationally and/or internationally is so serious it will take three different articles to share all the necessary information. This week’s article will begin with basic information about the measles. Each week the article will dive a little deeper to address most of the frequently asked questions, as well as preventive safety steps to help safeguard your child and love ones.
Measles is a highly contagious disease. When I was a child growing up measles was considered one of the three common childhood diseases (measles, mumps and chickenpox). It was not uncommon to have a friend or a sibling to catch one of these then considered common diseases. A majority of the children recovered and were back playing at school.
As a child what I, along with others, didn’t realize was on average each year 450 people would die from the measles. A majority of them were healthy children before contracting the disease. This was before the vaccine was available.
Another fact as a child I wasn’t aware of was the seriousness of this disease. Most of us didn’t realize children who did not recover from the disease were at risk of contracting pneumonia or encephalitis (infection of the brain). We further didn’t realize that out of every 1,000 children who got the measles one of two would die. This remains a fact today.
Since the vaccine became available it was believed this disease had been almost eradicated in the United States, but since some parents in recent years either refused or delayed vaccinating their child the disease has resurfaced and spread. Most of the people who have recently become ill were not vaccinated against the measles.
It is commonly believed if you were born before 1957 you are considered immune for life and do not need any additional vaccinations. This belief also applies to individuals who received two doses of the measles vaccine. If you are unsure about receiving two vaccine doses, try to find your vaccination records.
Nearly one out of every three children under the age of 5 who gets the measles ends up in the hospital. As a parent or grandparent, you want to know how can you Keep an Eye on Safety for your child and loved ones. This discussion will be addressed over the next two weeks.