I don’t remember treating any kids with measles in medical school or residency.
We certainly saw a lot of other now vaccine-preventable diseases when I was in training, from rotavirus and pneumococcal disease to meningococcal disease.
“When I graduated from medical school, many of the current vaccines were either not yet invented or just beginning to be widely used. I still remember what health care was like in the pre-vaccine era, and I remember that there seemed to be at least one child in each neighborhood who spent much of her life in an iron lung because of polio. As a young resident in pediatrics, I heard, on the whooping-cough ward, the coughing and choking of children with pneumonia. I remember the brain damage from encephalitis caused by measles, and the birth defects of babies whose mothers had had German measles during pregnancy. In my first years in pediatric practice, I remember making hospital rounds every morning and treating children with meningitis, and complications of chicken pox and other illnesses that have been either eliminated or lessened in severity by the widespread use of vaccines. Also, I remember more than a decade ago when Great Britain temporarily stopped the routine use of the DTP vaccine because of a reaction scare (which later turned out to be a false alarm) and consequently suffered a resurgence of whooping cough. Because of my “historical” perspective, I have grown to appreciate the value of vaccines as a necessary public-health measure. Currently in our pediatric practice, we follow the vaccine schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”Dr. William Sears on Ask Dr. Sears: Vaccination/Immunization Concerns
Although some folks only seem to have the Brady Bunch to use as a guide, fortunately there are many other ways to discover what measles used to be like.
I asked some of my old instructors…
“Typical case of measles – a couple days of high fever, with a sick (miserable) looking kid with running nose, bad cough, and red eyes. You can see Koplik’s spots if you know to look for them on the buccal mucosa (I describe them as grains of salts on red tablecloth). Fever gets higher and rash appears at peak of fever (day 3-4). The rash disappears with a brawny hyperpigmented appearance. The child frequently gets diagnosed with an ear infection. If no complications (ear infection or pneumonia), recovery is quick once the fever resolves, but these kids look really sick, miserable, and sad during the acute phase. They have a measly look.”Jeed Gan, MD
After reading that account, I’m glad my kids are all vaccinated and protected and hopefully won’t ever get measles, as it sounds horrible.
Although I have never seen it, I can certainly imagine that measly look…
What else can you imagine?
“I’ve often called measles ‘the harmless killer’ because, although most youngsters recover uneventfully, the disease a certain amount of really serious damage.”Dr. Joseph Molner
It is important to note that even a “mild” attack included a fever that could hit 104F or higher and, altogether the symptoms could last up to 12 days, as the cough often lingers after the rash has cleared up.
Not everyone survived having measles though.
It was once well known that measles was not always so easy on kids.
Why have so many folks forgotten that fact?
Is it because vaccines work so well that we don’t see or hear about measles that much anymore?
At least we don’t hear about them until immunization rates drop and we start having more and more outbreaks.
More on Remembering Measles
- The 2019 Measles Outbreaks Post-Mortem
- Personal Stories About Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
- Parents Who Regret Not Vaccinating Their Kids
- Everything You Need to Know About the Measles Vaccine
- What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Measles?
- What to Do If Your Child Is Exposed to Measles
- Why Are You Still Worried About the MMR Vaccine?
- The Myth That Measles Isn’t Deadly
- When Measles Epidemics Would Close Schools
- Fun and Games with Measles?
- Who Dies with Measles?
- Why Are We Having Measles Outbreaks If MMR Vaccination Rates Are Not Declining?
- Did Gregory Poland Really Say That MMR Vaccines Can’t Prevent Measles Outbreaks?
- A History of Measles Outbreaks in the United States
- When Was the Last Measles Death in the United States?
- Measles Stories
- Danger Zones of Parental Vaccine Refusal
- Measles’ Cost for Carol
- Sarah C’s Story
- Megan’s Story
- How Measles Encephalitis Harmed Harriet
- Measles: Common, yes; Mild, no
- The Past Is Never Dead—Measles Epidemic, Boston, Massachusetts, 1713
- A 6-year-old boy with fever, rash and severe pneumonia
- A Typical Case of Measles
- Remembering How to Fight Measles
- One mother’s story: I went ahead with the measles vaccine despite my fears
- Measles Is Serious (A History Lesson from My Grandmother)
- I Was on the Front Line of L.A.’s Last Measles Outbreak
- Pediatrician Remembers Measles & Diphtheria in Charleston
- Pediatrician Remembers Measles Patients at Louisville General in the 1960s
- Pediatrician Remembers a Measles Outbreak Among the Amish
- Measles vaccine co-creator explains where the fear came from, and why it is unfounded
- The measles challenge for doctors: recognizing a disease they have never seen
- Measles outbreak frustrates pediatrician who recalls disease well
- Outbreak! On the front lines of a measles epidemic
- Remembering The Pre-Vaccine Era: The Diseases of Childhood
- Beyond Rash And Fever: How Measles Can Kill
- Family’s Exposure to Measles Reveals Importance of Herd Immunity
- Patient stories about measles in Europe