Posted: Jul 03, 2014 7:00 AM
The U.S. was considered measles-free in 2000, but this potentially deadly childhood disease has managed to make a comeback. So is your child susceptible to measles? Learn more about the measles and how to spot signs of this preventable virus.
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Why the measles virus is back

As researchers make strides in the fight against childhood diseases such as chicken pox, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the largest outbreak of measles since vaccines led to the virus being eliminated from the U.S. in 2000. "We are seeing a rise in children in the U.S. with measles because international travel has become so common. People bring it back from endemic areas and because it's so highly contagious," Nadia Qureshi, M.D., pediatric infectious disease specialist at Loyola University Health System explains. "If your child is not vaccinated, they are at-risk." The even scarier truth is should your child catch a case of the measles virus, pediatricians may have a hard time diagnosing the childhood disease because it has been gone for so long.

Signs of measles

The first sign of this highly contagious virus is the telltale rash, but unfortunately this symptom doesn't appear until four days after your child is infected, leaving lots of opportunity to spread the virus far and wide. However, Loyola University Health System advises parents to be on the lookout for initial symptoms before a rash hits such as:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Fatigue
  • White spots in the mouth

Finally, your youngster will develop a rash that breaks out on the face and runs down the body accompanied by an extremely high fever. "Many people think it's just a virus and my child will get better," shares Qureshi. "Unfortunately, it's not as simple as that. This virus can make your child miserable and can lead to serious complications and even death."

How to fight against this childhood disease

While young children are most at risk, anyone can develop these serious and even deadly complications. Unfortunately, the measles is caused by an extremely contagious virus, leaving no treatment for the infection. While this misery-inducing virus can lead to serious complications and death, "we do have a very effective vaccine that can prevent the virus," advises Qureshi. "Children in the U.S. usually get two doses of the vaccine. After the first dose 95 percent are protected and 98 percent are protected after the second."

In light of the resurgence of childhood diseases mainly due to the trend against inoculating children, is your child susceptible to measles? Not likely for those who choose to vaccinate against the measles virus. But, for those youngsters who are unprotected, it is even more vital to talk to your doctor about any symptoms you suspect may indicate exposure to this potentially deadly disease.

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