A Deadly Measles Complication Is More Common Than Previously Thought

Posted: Oct 29 2016, 8:20am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 29 2016, 8:24am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 

A Deadly Measles Complication is More Common than Previously Thought
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Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis or SSPE is killing more people every year

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis or SSPE is a chronic form of brain inflammation caused by measles virus. Previously, it was thought that only a limited number of people affected by measles develop SSPE. In fact, most of them appear to have fully recovered from the disease but in reality they are not. Measles reemerges in a more complicated form many years later.

According to a new research, one in 609 infants who have suffered from measles later develop subacute sclerosing panencephalitis which is a 100 percent deadly disease. The virus can lay dormant for years before reappearing later in life. 

Infants who are struck by measles before vaccination are at high risk of developing SSPE. Currently, there is no cure for the deadly measles complication and the only way to prevent this disease is the vaccination.

“This is really alarming and shows that vaccination truly is life saving," said co-author James Cherry from David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles. "Measles is a disease that could be eliminated worldwide, but that means vaccinating at least 95 percent of all who are eligible with two doses of measles vaccine in order to protect everyone, including those who aren't old enough to get the vaccine.”

Researchers have reached to this conclusion after analyzing 17 cases of SSPE in California between 1998 and 2016, all of whom had measles while they were infants and before they received vaccination. Moreover, all who got measles as children did not show the symptoms of SSPE right away.

New analysis suggests that kids who get the measles before age 5 have a one in 1,387 chance of developing SSPE, and kids who get the measles before age 1 have a one in 609 chance. The finding shows how important it is to vaccinate everyone against measles and also how effectively vaccination is contributing to the measles decline. 

“Where many people fall down on this is they start talking about risk of vaccines when we should talk about risk of disease,” said Dr. Cherry. “Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis: the Devastating Measles Complication Is More Common Than We Think.”

Measles itself is a highly infectious disease, which can transmit from one person to another through air. The symptoms may include fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, sore throat and crash.

The disease is easily prevented by vaccine. Vaccine MMR is not recommended until 1 year because it is less effective at this age. The first dose is given between 12 and 15 months while second one is given later to eliminate any chances of contracting the disease. So, it is important to take precautionary measures before infants receive vaccination.

“Parents of infants who have not yet been vaccinated should avoid putting their children at risk," said Dr. Cherry. "For example, they should postpone trips overseas - including to Europe - where measles is endemic and epidemic until after their baby has been vaccinated with two doses. It's just not worth the risk."

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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