Measles: Just the Facts
Posted on February 25, 2015
I recently had the pleasure of sitting in a class presentation regarding the December 2014 meales outbreak that is still getting much press these days. The information was presented by a woman with a Public Health background. She did an excellent job of presenting “just the facts” with some hard core data and studies to back them up, and without any speculation regarding the measles outbreak or the choice of vaccinating or not. We can learn a lot from this information and make informed decision accordingly.
Let me recap some of the questions addressed and some of the myths busted
When do measles outbreaks usually occur?
The season when measles outbreaks most often occur is late winter through spring.
How can I stay abreast of the current state of the measles outbreak?
Rather than watching the nightly news, going directly to the CDC website and viewing the morbidity and mortality report, is advised.
Was this recent outbreak a result of someone being vaccinated and shedding and spreading the disease?
No. The reason that we know this is because the genotype of all measle vaccines is geneotype A. The genotype(s) involved with the outbreak at Disneyland is/are other than type A. As a sidenote, although various genotypes of the virus exist, there is only one antigenic type of measles.
Is it likely that the recent measles outbreak was due to an increase in those individuals choosing not to receive vaccinations?
No. The vaccination rate for the population in the US has not changed much over the past few decades, so we cannot attribute the outbreak to the lack of vaccinations. The total rate of those vaccinated since 1995 has remained at around 90%.
Am I guaranteed immunity from the measles if I receive the vaccine?
Not exactly. Although the vaccine can provide up to 95% immunity, there will normally be some outlyers — those who receive the vaccine but do not receive immunity. A titer would confirm lack of immunity in these individuals. In theory, those individuals who do receive immunity from the measles vaccine would experience lifelong immunity. However, the vaccine has not been in existence long enough to have proven scientific evidence of this yet.
Am I guaranteed future immunity from the measles if I contract the virus?
Yes. Once you have the measles virus, you have lifelong immunity against catching the virus again. Prior to 1957, we know that people were immune to the virus as a result of contracting the actual measles virus.
How contagious is the measles virus, and what is it susceptible to?
Measles are inactivated by heat, bright light, and acids, such as some cleaning sprays and hand-sanitizers. The virus is only viable outside of the human cells for about 2 hours. This makes it a rather weak virus in contrast to others, but it is also the most contagious virus in history.
How does the virus spread, and what does the course of illness typically look like?
In the initial stage of the measles infection, the virus develops in the respiratory system for the first few days. Because respiratory droplets can spread easily, it is estimated that about 90% of those who come in contact with the virus, without immunity, will contract the measles. The virus can also invade the lymphatic system — another great reason to do consistent lymphatic movement, such as T-Tapp isometric exercise, to keep things flowing and detoxifying. Nerve damage might also occur, as a result of the virus.
Towards the end of the 10-12 day incubation period, the fever can reach 103-105 degrees, and a rash can develop from days 7-14 after the initial exposure. The rash is not the main point of concern with the measles, however.
Should I be concerned that the measles virus could cause death for me or my children?
The measles virus itself is not the real concern; it is the after-effects that could result from a damaged or compromised immune system that should be considered and addressed. The weakened immune system can lead to secondary infections, such as pneumonia, and those are the real threats. So, treatment of the resulting infections is important. Statistically, the greatest concern for those contracting measles is for children under 5 and over 20.
In the US, from 1985-1992, the stated total mortality rate reported by the CDC was .2%. And according to the same article by the CDC, an average of 1 measles-related death per year has been reported in the US.
What should I know about the measles if I am pregnant or expecting to become pregnant?
Exposure to measles while pregnant can be a real concern. The virus has been known to cause miscarriage, premature births, and low birth rate. Some birth defects have been reported in women with the virus, but the measles virus has not been confirmed as the cause, according to the CDC. It is also noteworthy to mention that it was stated to be unlikely that a large number of adult women would be susceptible to the measles virus during pregnancy because they would probably have previously encountered the measles or have been already vaccinated.
What should I know about the MMR vaccine and an infant?
The metabolic pathway of infants, especially those under one year, are not fully mature; therefore, they are normally unable to efficiently detox the excipients, etc, in some vaccines. It should also be noted that at least 40% of the population has a genetic DNA mutation that decreases methylation, a vital liver detoxification process, that allows toxins to be filtered out of the body effectively.
What should I know about the MMR vaccine and breastfeeding?
If you are breastfeeding, you should know that rubella does shed into the breastmilk and can be transferred to your child. However, no information exists that shows that either the measles or the mumps from a vaccine sheds into breastmilk. A breastfeeding mother would provide the measles antibody for her baby for a certain period of time (approximately 9 months), and then it would begin to wane. Also, if a child gets the measles vaccination and breastfeeds immediately afterwards, it can possibly make the vaccine less effective.
Is there a separate measles vaccine available, excluding the mumps and rubella components of the MMR vaccine?
No, there is not. Currently, Merck is the only manufacturer of an MMR vaccine on the market, and it is the 3-in-1 vaccine. Merck also produces an MMRV vaccine, including the varicella component. The rate of efficacy of the mumps component of Merck’s MMR is 86%, rather than the originally stated 95%.
What excipients are contained in the current MMR vaccine?
Some of the excipients in the MMR vaccine include: phosphate, sorbitol, hydrolyed gelatin, chicken embryo cell cultures, cell line WY38 (from a one month old female infant), and additional constituents. The list of ingredients included in various vaccines can be found at the CDC site.
What natural support could I consider for myself and my family during a measles outbreak or after receiving the measles vaccine?
Currently, maintaining good levels of Vitamin A seems to be the most evidence-based approach to supporting the body when receiving the vaccine. Milk thistle and any liver support could also be beneficial.
Immune boosting herbs and supplements — those classified as adaptagens, like astragalus, as well as anti-microbials, such as echinacea, are also thought to be potentially beneficial when the potential for viral exposure is a concern. Theorhetically, if an infected individual was to wear a mask while contagious, the possibility of spreading the virus could possibly be minimized. However, a person is often contagious before they would have symptoms to realize that they contracted the virus.
What are the known risks connected with the MMR vaccine?
First of all, there is an important distinction to be made between the terms correlation (non-scientific) and causation (backed by scientific evidence). Leaving out all speculation and correlation, there are some known causal links to the MMR vaccine. These have been confirmed with multiple studies over decades. There is a proven causal link to febrile seizures from the MMR vaccine. This poses a documented risk of 2-5%. There is also a link to temporary arthritis, along with potential evidence for chronic arthritis in children. There are other potential links to such concerns as diabetes and delayed development. To date, studies have not ruled out a link to autism, using the best research methods available. However, there has also not be a definiteive causal link established, either.
Do the benefits of the MMR vaccine outweigh the risks?
That is an answer that only you can determine by reviewing all of the data and deciding what you feel is best for you and your family. Although a Public Health perspective would look at the population as a whole in answering this question, most individuals are going to be making decision based upon their own family histories, health philosophies, and their best judgment, based on all of the evidence available. So there will likely be various perspectives on this question– at least one that is more of a broad stroke perspective and one that is more individualized.
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