Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Local DC area warning on measles

Public health officials have identified up to eight locations visited by people known to be exposed to measles. ABC Affiliate station WJLA in Washington DC has a detailed story here.

One of the persons involved might have gotten the virus in India.

Measles is normally prevented by a childhood vaccine.

I had measles in June 1950, just before my seventh birthday and second grade. My family was vacationing for a week in Ocean City, MD when I came down with the fever and rash half way through the visit.

Although second grade went well for me, in third grade I began having some subtle developmental problems which I have widely discussed elsewhere in these blogs. Measles is known to do subtle neurological damage, possibly more in male children.

The Centers for Disease Control has a page on the measles, here.

The measles vaccine first became available in 1963 and was vastly improved in 1968 (link here). Anyone with military service (particularly because of the draft) in that period was immunized against a wide variety of exotic infectious diseases (as well as measles by then), but the beneficial effect may have been to strengthen societal “herd immunity”.

One other aside: when I volunteered to be considered for an HIV-experimental vaccine in 1989 (I did not go through with it), tests found previous exposure to histoplasmosis while living in Texas. People are often exposed to exotic and potentially dangerous infections without developing symptoms.

Picture: Where the family stayed in most years Ocean City, MD in annual June visits from 1947 to 1960.

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