Measles is a respiratory infection that attacks the immune system
The measles virus infects the upper respiratory tract. At first, a case of measles looks and feels like a common cold. It makes people cough and sneeze. As a result, they can easily spread the measles virus to other people. You can catch the measles by breathing in a room where an infected person had coughed an hour or two before.
Measles starts out as a respiratory infection, but then it attacks the immune system. The macrophages, which are white blood cells that are supposed to kill the measles virus, end up getting infected by the measles virus. As a result, the macrophages make new copies of the measles virus and then die. As a result, you lose the white blood cells that are your first line of defense against infection. Measles also kills off another important group of white blood cells: the B memory cells. As a result, measles erases your immune system’s memory of how to fight diseases it has seen before.
A case of measles can lead to an inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) which can lead to blindness, deafness, mental retardation, or even death. Like AIDS patients, people who have just had measles are at risk for opportunistic infections, such as pneumonia. If children who are too young to be vaccinated catch measles, they are at risk for a chronic measles infection of the brain, called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). Cases of SSPE always progress slowly to coma and death. There is no effective treatment.
Since measles spreads by airborne droplets, vaccination is the only effective way to prevent the disease. Two doses of the measles vaccine provide about 99% protection against catching the measles. The measles vaccine is combined with the mumps and rubella vaccine into the MMR shot. This shot is a “live” vaccine that cannot be given to people with a suppressed immune system. For this reason, we need to vaccinate practically everyone else.
In the 1970s, a worldwide vaccination campaign drove smallpox into vaccination. A similar campaign has driven polio to the edge of extinction. Like smallpox and polio, the measles virus occurs only in human beings. Once we vaccinate enough people worldwide to stop the circulation of the virus, the measles will go extinct forever. After that, we won’t need tovaccinate anyone against measles.
Whom should you trust?
Medical doctors do a really good job at preventing and treating infections disease.
Your doctor has been to medical school and knows your child’s history
Many antivaccine activists sell overpriced vitamins over the Internet.
As long as vaccines have existed, there has been an antivaccine movement
Neverthless, vaccines drove smallpox into extinction. Polio is nearly extinct. Measles is next on the list for eradication. Once a disease is extinct, you no longer need to vaccinate against it.
Vaccines are used to prevent serious diseases that cause serious illness and may cause disfigurement, disability, or death, despite the best available treatments. Vaccines are used against diseases that can get past the innate immune system. The innate immune system provides generalized protection against any germs. Vaccines give a head-start to our adaptive immune system. The adaptive immune system provides specific protection against something that the body has seen before.
No More Measles! The Truth About Vaccines and Your Health
Smallpox is gone. Polio is almost gone. Measles is next.
Whom should you trust for advice about vaccines? Your family doctor? Or that guy who sells overpriced herbal supplements over the Internet? This fascinating book explains why vaccination is still the mainstay of public health. It explains what germs are, which ones are dangerous, and how you can protect yourself and your family against them. Thanks to vaccination, many diseases that were common causes of blindness, deafness, paralysis, or death at the turn of the 20th century are rare in many countries today. Some of these diseases are caused by germs that only infect human beings. Once we drive those diseases into extinction through vaccination, we will never have to vaccinate anyone else against them!