Healthy Aging: The UN-Vaccinated Hordes

In the past year, there have been outbreaks of measles nationwide – a worrying trend for an entirely preventable disease that was once thought to have been virtually wiped out in North America.

Back in the 1960s, it seemed as though we had eliminated the disease, at least in the developed world, thanks to a fabulous vaccine, which is usually paired with mumps and rubella vaccines, called MMR. We vaccinated our children and we rarely, if ever, saw a case. This was a huge success, given that the disease can be deadly.

However, measles has come back – with a vengeance. There are two main reasons for this. First, although measles was rarely seen in North America, it was still prevalent in other countries. When a susceptible person visits one of those countries, or if unvaccinated people from abroad visit us, it is easy to bring the virus here. And measles is a very contagious virus.

Second, a significant number of people chose not to be vaccinated would never or are hesitant about receiving the vaccine. This has resulted in communities with high levels of unvaccinated people throughout the country. Now, public health officials are dealing with a growing number of cases, which presents increased risks for the entire population.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone should understand four things about measles:

1. It’s a potentially life-threatening and life-altering disease. Yes, it is a rash, it’s itchy and uncomfortable and causes fever in children. But about 25 per cent of people with measles end up in hospital. In one out of every 1,000 cases, it will cause brain swelling, which can lead to brain damage. And it kills one or two out of every 1,000 people who contract it, even in countries with advanced health-care systems, like ours.

2. It is a very contagious virus. It spreads in the air from coughing or sneezing. And it spreads early in the disease’s progression, before symptoms develop. The virus can linger in the air in a room for two hours after someone with the disease has left, and about 90 per cent of those who are not immune will become ill from breathing that air. It’s therefore easy to understand how even one case of measles can infect large numbers of people.

3. Even if there are few cases of measles in a community, every unprotected person is at risk, due to the frequency of international travel.

4. The best protection from this disease is vaccination. Those born before 1957 are very likely to have had the disease and are immune for life. Those born after 1957 have generally been offered immunization. However, we now know that we need two shots of MMR (or MMRV) to properly protect against the disease. Lots of people only received a single dose of MMR, and while a single dose does provide protection (it’s about 93 per cent effective), two doses increase that protection to over 97 per cent and is considered the requirement for children today.

Health-care workers, people serving in the military, as well as those who travel to at-risk areas should definitely get both shots. For others, many guidelines suggest that one is often enough. However, given the amount of international travel that takes place on a daily basis, the cosmopolitan nature of our communities, the lessons of how quickly viruses can spread, as we saw with SARS, and the death rate from this preventable disease, it would be wise to play it safe and get both doses.

I am immune, as I had the disease as a child. My children and grandchildren have been immunized, as I would never gamble on their health. But unfortunately, far too many people these days are willing to take that gamble – and are paying the price.

Disclaimer:
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

Mumps are making a comeback in Canada

shutterstock_337150673Check your vaccinations!
A rise in cases of Mumps in Canada has public health officials asking young adults to check if they need a vaccination booster. The standard vaccination is two doses starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults also should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination. *(measles, mumps & rubella)

Mumps is a viral infection that is contagious and spread through saliva and respiratory droplets, causing swelling of the salivary glands. **   Prior to having a vaccination against mumps available in the mid-sixties in Canada, mumps among school-age children was common in fact a rite of passage.   In early 1970’s the vaccine was combined to offer protection against measles, mumps. and rubella. (MMR).

But providing a second round of the vaccine wasn’t practiced until the 1990’s, which has led to a small gap in immunity for those born between 1970 and 1994.

The gap in immunity for those that have not had a second dose is one of the reasons, health officials believe there is a rise in the infection.  The other is because of growing numbers of individuals who have never been vaccinated for mumps and are infectious while coming into contact where are a lot of people sharing food and drinks. It takes between two to five days before the infection begins to show swelling and other symptoms. Once mumps has been diagnosed, the usual procedure is to keep the individual in isolation until the infection subsides.

The symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite and inflammation and tenderness of one or both salivary glands

Mumps is serious and can have long term affects such as deafness, or sterility in males.

So, it is extremely important that you check your vaccination records with your family physician to ensure they are up to date.

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Mumps are making a comeback in Canada.Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

Sources:  * Center for Disease Control  ** Wikipedia -Mumps

Travel alerts internationally for polio and measles outbreaks this summer. Check your vaccinations before traveling

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Travel alerts for polio worldwide & the resurgence of measles outbreaks in Canada, Europe and Africa, highlight the need for Canadians to get vaccinated before traveling to affected areas. Measles is a virus that can affect anyone and is highly contagious for individuals that have not previously had measles, or have not been vaccinated.

As long as measles is affecting children in other parts of the world, Canada will be affected as well. That’s why it’s extremely important for parents to ensure their children are vaccinated twice. Once when they are 12-15 months old, and again when they are 4-6 years old. Adults born before 1970 are likely immune, and everyone else needs to check their records. Polio, which has been eliminated from most countries, continues to occur in some areas of the world. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that travelers get vaccinated against polio when going to countries where polio has not been eliminated: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Syria, and Iraq.  As for polio, our travel clinics have been busy answering questions from travelers about getting the vaccine even when not travelling in affected areas.  My advice is to have one shot for polio, called IPV as an adult, if you have not already done so.
Measles is a respiratory disease caused by a virus of the same name. It causes fever, runny nose and a characteristic rash all over the body. Most people recover, but the infection is fatal between one and three of every 1,000 cases. Polio is a contagious disease. It is spread from person to person through contaminated food and water. Polio can attack the central nervous system and destroy the nerve cells that activate muscles, which may cause paralysis and death.
So please check your vaccinations before travelling this summer.

#travel #summer #healthy

Disclaimer
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.