Believe it or not, measles didn’t get it’s name from the measles virus.
After all, the virus wasn’t discovered until 1954, by John Enders.
Making America Measly Again
So where did the name measles come from?
One idea is that it came from the Middle English word mesel, which means a leper. Another that it is from the Latin misellus, the diminutive form of miser – wretched.
“Measles is, he says, derived from the Dutch maseln (measles) ; the disease is also called in Holland mczsel-sucht, the measle-sickness; so translated by an old English writer. The literal sense is “small spots.” The original word occurs in the Middle High German mase,’ Old High German masa, a spot. Hirsch also states that the English word “measles” corresponds to the German Maal, and Masern, and the Sanscrit masurra, spots. Doubtless it is to this meaning of spots, hence spotty, that we owe the term “measly pork,” as applied to the meat of the pig when infested with scolices of tasnia.”Sykes On the Origin and History of Some Disease Names
Most people think that the etymology of measles is Dutch.
It’s shouldn’t be a surprise that few of us know where the name comes from, as few folks have actually seen a kid with measles, even with the recent rise in measles cases.
“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 Koplic’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 hyperpigmentation 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
But I’m sure most of us can imagine that measly look…
What else can you imagine?
Can you imagine losing your child to a vaccine-preventable disease?
More on Making America Measly Again
- VAXOPEDIA – How Many People Get Measles Each Year?
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Are You Still Worried About the MMR Vaccine?
- VAXOPEDIA – The Myth That Measles Isn’t Deadly
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Haven’t We Eradicated Measles Already?
- VAXOPEDIA – More Measles Myths
- CDC – Measles Signs and Symptoms
- CDC – Complications of Measles
- NHS – Measles Symptoms
- WHO – Treating Measles in Children
- On the Origin and History of Some Disease Names
- Measles Stories
- 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