• By Dana Sparks

Discovery’s Edge: Mayo experts on the measles outbreak

July 18, 2017

research laboratory slide of a measles virus
The recent measles outbreak in Minnesota reached an unfortunate milestone (and extensive national news coverage) on June 1, 2017 when it exceeded the total number of cases reported in the entire United States last year. The disease is particularly tricky to control because it can linger in the air for hours, waiting to be inhaled.

“You can’t predict when you’ll be exposed to measles,” says Gregory Poland, M.D., a Mayo Clinic vaccine researcher. “If you get on an airplane, visit Disneyland, go to a mall, or frequent any place where there are other people, you’re at risk.”

Once contracted, a measles infection is not trivial. The virus causes fevers over 104°F, a hacking cough, runny nose, enflamed eyes, and a full-body rash. It can trigger severe complications, such as pneumonia, brain swelling, and blindness. For every 1,000 children infected, three will die. And every new infection creates another opportunity for the potentially fatal virus to spread. Essentially anyone who is not nonimmune and is exposed to an infected measles patient will end up getting the measles themselves. Read the rest of the article.
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