Measles is caused by a virus of the influenza family. The first measles symptoms are somewhat like a bad cold or flu, but with a rash! The huge majority of parents don’t understand what measles is, besides being a childhood illness. They know it’s a rash and is contagious, but that is about it.
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They’ve likely never seen it and do not know anybody who has had it. Most doctors wouldn’t recognise measles symptoms before the rash appeared, never having come across it. This is because of the measles vaccination program that was superseded by the MMR vaccine. I’ve even heard of parents organizing measles parties, where young kids are sent to see others who have measles so that they catch it.
This is going back to the immediate post World War 2 era when immunity has been obtained by catching the illness. I had been brought up in the 1950s and early 1960s and recall mumps parties and German measles parties so that kids would be resistant to such diseases as adults, but not measles parties.
The cause of this is that mumps can harm the male reproductive system ( andnot so recognized, the ovaries too ) if contracted after puberty, and German measles is quite harmful to the developing fetus. In children, however, they are relatively mild ailments. Painful and embarrassing, possibly, but not what you would call killer diseases. German measles isn’t a sort of measles.
The term ‘German’ probably comes from a Latin term, germanus, meaning’similar’ because the symptoms are like those of measles. Measles kill, so we never had measles parties. In reality back in the 1940s and 1950s it was a significant killer. In England alone 5,677 kids died in the 1940s. Nobody wanted their children to catch measles back in nowadays. I’ve read that measles parties were common then, but I never came across one.
We were constantly told to stay away from anyone who had measles – at least until they went back to college. Some never moved back. Since the measles vaccine, which became available in 1963, and MMR that was licensed in the USA in 1971 (1972 from the UK), the disease is now rare in developed countries, and parents have become blasé about it. This is the only reason I could think of for them concluding that measles parties are better for their kids than the vaccine. If it doesn’t kill, it may have some rather nasty side effects.
It’s undeniably the most damaging children’s rash-producing disease. Measles is one of the significant causes of death in children worldwide (over 600,000 have been reported) and it’s nearly as contagious as smallpox. Children have about a 99% chance of contracting the disease if they encounter contacted by an infected individual.
The most important cause of death in around 60 percent of measles cases is pneumonia. If it doesn’t kill your kids they have a high prospect of hearing issues, and worse, a much greater than average probability of contracting meningitis or encephalitis. The odds of this are just 1 in a 1000, but you do not want your son or daughter to be that one. I know, because my son was that one.