Deadly Measles Risk Persists for Years
A recent study provided yet another reason to vaccinate against measles: a fatal complication of the disease—one that can strike years later—may be more common than was previously thought. According to the new study, the risk for subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a deadly neurological disorder, is about 1 in 1,387 in children infected with the measles virus before the age of five. However, for children infected before age one, the risk rose to about 1 in 600.
This study looked at children who contracted the measles during an outbreak of the disease in 1990. The average age for developing SSPE was 12, but the fatal condition occurred between the ages of three and 35.
The results once again underscore the importance of vaccination. By vaccinating everyone who is eligible, “herd immunity” can help protect infants who are too young to be vaccinated against measles and people with compromised immune systems who are unable to receive the vaccine.
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