As far as scary diseases are concerned, measles is near the top of the list. And although the infection itself is concerning enough, the side effects of measles are also serious, and sometimes even deadly.
First, it's helpful to understand a little more about this nasty disease. Also known as rubeola, measles is a contagious infection caused by a virus that often affects children, according to the Mayo Clinic. A high fever, runny nose, and a skin rash are some of the most common symptoms of measles, as noted in WebMD. Although this may not sound too bad, measles still kills about 100,000 people worldwide every year, most of whom are under 5 years of age, as further explained by the Mayo Clinic. It can be such a heartbreaking infection.
Thankfully, measles are well-managed by modern vaccines. In fact, two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine are approximately 97 percent effective at preventing measles, as explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Thanks to widespread vaccination, there are generally less than 200 cases of measles in the United States each year, according to the CDC. Travel from countries where measles are rampant is one way the infection spreads to those in the US, and unvaccinated people who carry the disease can spread it to others, including children who are too young for the MMR vaccine, as as further noted by the CDC. Although chances of your child in the US getting measles is thankfully very low, it's still wise to educate yourself about this disease and its potential side effects.
This is one of the more common side effects. In fact, about one out of every ten children who get measles deal with an ear infection, as noted by the CDC. Although ear infections in children are not uncommon, they can be stubborn, persistent, and painful, as explained by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicable Disorders.
This is another common complication. Although it doesn't happen as often as ear infections, diarrhea in children who have measles is a frequent side effect, as explained by the CDC. And this can lead to still more complications. In general, children with diarrhea are at risk of dehydration, as noted in Johns Hopkins Medicine. Don't hesitate to contact your pediatrician for advice if this symptom appears at all severe.
Honestly, most measles side effects are pretty scary. Pneumonia is another common complication of measles in children, as noted in Harvard Health Publishing. And it can be particularly troubling. In fact, pneumonia is the most common reason young children die from measles, as explained by the CDC. The lung inflammation can be serious.
A swelling of the brain, encephalitis is another potentially serious complication from measles, as explained in the CDC. In fact, the author Roald Dahl's daughter died from measles-induced encephalitis, as noted by the Oxford Vaccine Group. Even decades after her passing, the writer cautioned other parents to vaccinate their children against measles.
5Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE)
This is a rare complication, so at least there's some bit of good news. But subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a disease affecting the central nervous system of people who had measles earlier in life, as explained by the CDC. Some 7 to 10 years after contracting measles, the progressive and deadly brain disorder SSPE can develop, and it is fatal, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Again, though, it's a rare side effect for people in western countries. If these or any other side effects from measles are giving you concern, don't hesitate to contact a medical professional at once.