Image Credit: Flickr User Ray Larabie, via CC
Disneyland theme park in California, US is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. People pour in from all over the world to see it. It is flocked by thousands of visitors including tourists and locals every day. In December 2014, a person infected with measles, a highly contagious virus, was at one of the theme parks in Disneyland. Measles is a highly infectious airborne disease. Since the virus is spreads through air, sneezing coughing or even breathing transports the virus. Till date, about 103 people have been confirmed sick with measles all over the United States. It’s a mini outbreak of sorts!
Why is measles so infectious?
The red rash that is a clear indicator of measles appears only a few days after contracting the virus. During the period between contracting the virus and getting the rashes, the infected people themselves do not know that they are the carriers of the virus. Therefore, they end up spreading the virus to others that they come in contact with. The virus is airborne, so it spreads even without sick person coming in direct contact.
Does that mean it can not be eliminated?
No. In fact, The United States in 2000 declared that measles had been eliminated from the country because of the highly effective measles vaccine. However, measles virus is sometimes brought back into the country by unvaccinnated travelers who then pass it on to the other people. The unvaccinated people are at a high risk of catching the virus.
How does any vaccine work?
One prick of the vaccination injects a very small dose of weak virus into your body. Your immune system immediately produces antibodies to fight the foreign bodies. Now your immune system is practiced well in advance to fight the virus.
Why is there a debate over getting vaccinated?
Many people in US believe that the measles vaccine contain toxic ingredients that can be harmful to their bodies. The government and researchers claim that the drug is very safe. This issue has sparked debates time and again. The US government always encourages its citizens to get vaccinated.
Do you think vaccinations for highly contagious diseases like measles should be made mandatory? Or do you hold the view that people should be free to make choices when it comes to vaccinations?
Some parts of the above story are based on materials provided by The California Department of Public Health and information provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.