Multiple outbreaks of the measles virus in the United States and across the planet have led to a worldwide spike of cases.
In the United States alone, there has been 704 cases of the measles, breaking a 25-year record. The United Kingdom has also seen an increase in measles cases lately, with at the least 32 diagnosed just in the Manchester area in 2010.
These outbreaks are particularly concerning for infants, who are especially susceptible to the highly contagious virus and too young to be immunized.
The virus is easily transmitted and can stay in the air for two hours following a person infected with measles has left the area.
Jilly Moss, a mother in the United Kingdom, recently experienced the measles outbreak firsthand. Moss’infant daughter, Alba, contracted the measles before she was old enough to obtain vaccinated.
Moss shared a series of photos on Facebook detailing her baby’s painful, life-threatening struggle with the measles.
ecially dangerous to infants, according to health experts.
First off, the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine doesn’t work as well in infants under 1. The reason being antibodies are transferred from the mother to the baby, and though this may provide some protection, it makes the shot less effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Both United States and the United Kingdom recommend getting the very first dose around 1 year of age and the next between 4 to 6 years of age.
“Because the measles virus is indeed contagious (a person with active measles will infect 9 out of each and every 10 non-immune individuals they encounter), this leaves newborns at a top risk of contracting the condition if cases exist in the community,” said Dr. Bernhard L. Wiedermann, a pediatric infectious diseases physician at Children’s National Health System and professor of pediatrics with the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Secondly, because infants’immune systems aren’t fully developed, they tend to see more severe cases of the measles along with an increase of dangerous complications — such as pneumonia, encephalitis (an infection of the brain tissue), seizures, and death.
As a result of this, the measles — and any other complications that’ll occur — are much more challenging to control in younger children.
“For a health care provider, it is scarier to really have a 2- or 3-month old infant in a medical facility when compared with a 2- or 3-year-old toddler. The infant has fewer reserves, it is harder for the staff to control the medications and IV fluids, and the infection can spread to other areas of the human body more easily,” said Dr. Jamie Loehr, a family group physician with Cayuga Family Medicine in Ithaca, New York