Measles or Rubella is one of the most contagious and most deadly of the childhood respiratory diseases. However, vaccinations for measles and other childhood diseases have been on the decline. This is mostly due to people believing the disease has been totally eradicated in the US and choosing (for their own reasons) not to vaccinate.

Measles was thought to be eradicated in the US in 2000, however in many parts of the world, that is not so. Over the last several years we have seen outbreaks of measles in various US cities, but none with as much impact as what started in Anaheim in December 2014. As of February, measles has spread to 14 different states resulting in over 100 cases.

“What the public doesn’t see is, the long-range impact of their decision to not vaccinate,” says Bonnie Pittaluga, MD, pediatrician with MemorialCare Medical Group in Rancho Santa Margarita. “Parents may think their decision only affects their family, but in reality, it affects the whole community; especially those children who for medical reasons cannot be vaccinated.” As we’ve seen with Anaheim, it takes only one person to travel into the United States as a measles carrier to quickly spread the disease. Once in the air or on surfaces from coughing and sneezing, the virus can be active for a couple of hours. Unless vaccinated, you’re vulnerable to the disease.

Symptoms: At the beginning, measles symptoms may be mistaken for other common illnesses; a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat. Approximately four days later, spots will start to appear at the hair line and continue down over the body. A person with measles is contagious beginning the four days before the spots appear to four days after. In that window of eight days a person can be spreading the virus before they even realize they have the measles. Complications from measles are rare but can include permanent hearing loss, pneumonia, and encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and convulsions which may leave the child with mental retardation.

“The information is clear. Vaccinations work and are safe. My children are vaccinated, and I recommend it for all my patients,” adds Bonnie Pittaluga, MD.

Call today to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician, family medicine or internal medicine physician at (949) 583-1600 in Mission Viejo or (949) 459-9968 in Rancho Santa Margarita.

About MemorialCare Medical Group MemorialCare Medical Group, a member of MemorialCare Health System, is an award winning team of healthcare professionals consisting of over 180 physicians dedicated to providing quality compassionate care to over 130,000 patients in Orange and Los Angeles counties. With multiple locations throughout the Southland, MemorialCare Medical Group offers a broad scope of multi-specialty services including primary care, specialty and ancillary care, laboratory and radiology services and urgent/prompt care.

MemorialCare.org/MedicalGroup

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