By Erin Hayden
In 2014-15, a record 885 cases of measles were reported, including outbreaks at Disneyland, exposure precipitated by international travel and cases concentrated within isolated pockets of unvaccinated communities.1-2 Although the number of measles cases has since reduced, risk is still present. In February 2018, Allegheny County saw a confirmed case of the measles in a fully vaccinated person. At current time, no other cases have been confirmed, but the 7 to 21-day incubation period for the virus delays detection of signs and symptoms. Mumps have also resulted in several outbreaks recently, including one in 2014 that hit the National Hockey League (NHL) and another outbreak in Arkansas in 2016-17 that affected over 3000 individuals.3 Outbreaks of these diseases result from a combination of factors, including lack of vaccination among groups, but also the longevity of the antibodies and immune response formed in individuals that are vaccinated.
MMR stands for measles, mumps and rubella, and commonly refers to the vaccine product used to prevent these diseases. These are three separate viral illnesses that are serious and spread easily through personal contact and airborne transmission. Measles is an airborne disease characterized by high fever and rash, while rubella is a form of measles with similar symptoms as well as the potential to cause birth defects/miscarriage in pregnant women. Mumps presents with painful/swollen glands and lymph nodes, as well as widespread body pain, fatigue and fever. Complications of mumps can include deafness and meningitis. In the United States, these diseases could be completely eradicated due to the availability of the highly effective MMR vaccine. [Read more…]