How to keep our children safe from Measles

Measles is a very contagious disease of the respiratory system. It easily spreads from person to person because it’s transmitted through infected saliva or mucus droplets in the air while sneezing or coughing.

This is why you need to know how to keep your children and babies especially safe from measles. Babies especially require protection because they are most vulnerable to suffering from complications if exposed to the virus.

According to the WHO, measles kills about 100,000 people (who are mainly children aged 5 and lower) worldwide even today. Most of the cases are reported from developing and underdeveloped countries where most of the population are in the low income group, have poor health services and poor nutrition levels.

Why is Measles so contagious?

The main reason is because it spreads through saliva and mucus droplets whenever the patient sneezes or coughs. It’s a respiratory disease, and easily spread through the air. To make things worse, the virus stays airborne and also lives on any surface for as long as 2 hours.

So anyone who breathes the contaminated air or touches the contaminated surface gets infected.  This is why you have to take the appropriate measures to keep your children, babies and family safe from the disease.

Symptoms of Measles

Measles symptoms generally start about 14 days after getting exposed to the virus. It starts with flu-like symptoms like fever, muscle aches, runny nose and a cough.

It’s the inflamed or pink eyes and white spots in the mouth that signifies the patient is suffering from measles and not the flu. It’s only after 2-4 days that the infected gets a red and blotchy skin rash that spreads all over the body.

Most people recover from a virus attack within 7 to 10 days’ time but complications may arise in about 30% of cases. It’s in extreme cases that the patient may develop ear problems that lead to permanent hear loss, pneumonia that’s a leading cause of death in young children or encephalitis or brain inflammation and consequent brain damage.

Pregnant women should take care to prevent measles because it increases the possibilities of a miscarriage, low-birth-weight infants and premature labour. Research has also proven that based on the time the woman contracts measles, there’s a chance that the foetus may suffer from serious complications like congenital measles.

With measles being such a serious illness, diagnosing the disease and taking appropriate care and measures as soon as possible can lead to a fast recovery and prevent complications.

How to keep your children safe from Measles

Most of you should be aware that there’s a vaccination that helps prevent measles. It’s the measles-mumps-rubella or MMR vaccine.  It is effective at protecting against measles but like any other vaccine, it doesn’t provide 100% protection.

So there’s a possibility of someone who was vaccinated to get measles. The chances of a vaccinated person getting measles are higher if they were vaccinated before 1989.

It’s because it was only after 1989 that the recommended dose was increased to 2 doses. It’s thanks to the second dose that protection against measles is increased by 95%. This is why there are quite a few cases where vaccinated people have suffered and spread measles even after taking a booster dose.

There are other preventive measures you can avoid to protect your child from measles, besides vaccination.

  • Avoid going to public places when and if there is a measles breakout.
  • It helps if you strengthen your body immune system to fight the infection.
  • Both you and your children should eat more of organic whole foods because it improves your body immunity.
  • Sleep is also very important. Make sure you get your share of 8 hours of sleep every day. A good night’s sleep goes a long way at building your body immunity. It helps rejuvenate your body and makes you feel so much better and improved.
  • Try to include more of high quality fats into your diet like consuming more of nuts which are also full of antioxidants. Also eat more food containing omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, mackerel and tuna and flax seed.
  • Some studies have also proven that vitamin A deficiency is a proven trigger for developing severe measles. If your child suffers from vitamin A deficiency, supplements or consuming more foods rich in vitamins A like carrots and green vegetables can prove helpful at protecting your child from measles.
  • Not only vitamin A deficiency, any other nutritional deficiencies has to be addressed to improve your child’s immunity and body resistance. This goes a long way at protecting your child from measles.

The right time to vaccinate your child

The recommended age to give the MMR vaccine to children is between the ages of 12-15 months. You next have to give your child a second booster dose when they are about 4-6 years of age.

It’s also okay to give children the booster dose earlier, as long as it’s about 28 days after the first dose. It’s also safe to give the vaccine to babies as young as 6 months who are travelling outside the country.

Especially if travelling somewhere with a recent measles outbreak. However if the child is given a vaccination at the young age of 6 to 12 months, then they should still be given two additional doses as usual at 12-15 months and again at about 4-6 years of age.

Family and caregivers should be vaccinated

If you have a baby at home, and there’s a measles outbreak or someone at home has it, then it’s better to ensure everyone around her are vaccinated. You don’t need to be vaccinated if you had your two doses as a child. But there’s no risk in getting a booster shot if you aren’t sure.

Other siblings who weren’t vaccinated can get their two doses at least four weeks apart. It’s also safe to get vaccinated within three days of measles exposure.

It’s always better to avoid taking your baby out in places where there are crowds and international visitors like airports and tourist attractions, if there’s a measles outbreak.

It’s also better to not take your baby out much if you live some place with a low vaccination rate. You never know when the spot, like a birthday party, wedding or day care center was frequented by infected or unvaccinated children.

Mradula Shet

Mradula Shet

Mradula Shet is an avid and experienced freelance writer, and a housewife by profession. It's the combination of passion, life experiences and thirst for knowledge which brought out the writer in her.

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