Measles (rubeola) - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment (vaccines) & pathology
Mumps, Measles, And Whooping Cough Are Making A Serious Comeback
It's a virus. You'll just have to wait it out. That's what Jess Butler was told when she went to her GP last November with a dry cough.
Two weeks later, the 29-year-old had bruised ribs from the intense hacking bouts, which often made her throw up. This time the M.D. said it was bronchitis.
It wasn't until a week later that the true culprit was ID'd: pertussis (a.k.a. whooping cough), a disease that was mostly foreign to her. "I thought it was just for people on the Oregon Trail," she says. Even with the right meds, her cough lingered until New Year's.
Jess's ordeal isn't an isolated incident. Illnesses that were once considered eradicated are returning—some with a vengeance. Last year, 118 people in the U.S. were infected with measles, and more than 800 people in Hawaii were recently diagnosed with mumps.
Whooping cough cases have been rising since the '80s, the biggest spike (more than 48,000 cases) being just six years ago. And even people like Jess who have been vaccinated against these diseases are getting sick.
How can that be? Some vaccines can lose their efficacy over time, says Tara Vijayan, M.D., M.P.H., an infectious disease expert at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Plus, childhood vaccination rates are dropping because some parents believe—even though it's been disproven—that vaccines are linked to autism. That puts the entire population at higher risk, because the more unvaccinated people there are, the more opportunities for a disease to spread.
Thanks to modern medicine, diseases like measles, mumps, and whooping cough are far less fatal than they once were. But in rare cases, they still cause serious complications, such as pneumonia. And they're wildly contagious.
Read on for the basics on three worrisome but preventable illnesses and how to protect yourself.
Spot the signs:The first hints are a cough and runny nose. Three to five days later, sufferers often spike a fever and break out in flat, splotchy, red spots.
Think you caught it?See your family doc to confirm. Then hole up at home—you're contagious for four days after developing a rash. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough; the virus can live up to two hours in the air. If red flags for complications arise, such as confusion, lethargy, or hallucinations, go to the ER.
Vaccine lowdown:If you were born after 1990 and were vaccinated as a kid, you should be safe. Inoculated people born earlier may need to be revaccinated; that was the year the recommended dose was doubled to bolster protection. People never inoculated can get two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine; it's 97 percent effective at warding off the disease. Not sure of your immunization status? Ask your GP to test to see if you still have immunity.
Travel advisory:Romania, Italy, India, and the Philippines have been dealing with outbreaks. Update your immunity with your passport.
Spot the signs:Think the flu—headache, fever, muscle aches, fatigue, and loss of appetite—with one big difference: Your salivary glands become painful and swell like chipmunk cheeks. Coughing and sneezing are also common. But one-third of infected people have zero symptoms.
Think you caught it?You're contagious for five days after you see swelling. Symptoms last about a week, and once a doc has confirmed it via a blood test, there's little you can do outside of resting and staying hydrated. It may take up to two weeks for you to feel 100 percent again.
Vaccine lowdown:If medical records (or a blood test) show you didn't have the MMR vaccine or are no longer immune, you'll be given two doses of the vaccine separated by 28 days. Get them—mumps are more likely to cause complications, such as brain inflammation, in adults than in children.
Travel advisory:Mumps is common in parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa, so don't travel unless you're fully vaccinated.
Pertussis (a.k.a. Whooping Cough)
Spot the signs:Initial symptoms resemble a cold: runny nose, mild cough, maybe even a fever. One to two weeks later, sufferers develop bouts of rapid coughing, often with a "whooping" sound. They can last a minute or longer and make it hard to breathe. In some cases, extreme coughing can lead to exhaustion, vomiting, and even cracked ribs.
Think you caught it?Head to the doc, stat. Pertussis is a bacterial infection, so you'll need an antibiotic, and the sooner you start taking it, the quicker the recovery. After five days on the meds, you're no longer contagious. Full recovery can take several months (which is why the Chinese call it the 100-day cough).
Vaccine lowdown:Kids under 6 are given the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccine and, around a year later, a single dose of the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine. Adults should get the latter every 10 years. Not sure when your last jab was? Just get the shot, since blood tests can't tell whether you're up to date. Pregnant women also need the Tdap vaccine with every pregnancy, since pertussis can be fatal for babies (which is why it's also important to get if you're going to be around wee ones).
Travel advisory:In 2015, the World Health Organization reported over 140,000 cases of pertussis worldwide, many in developing countries. If you're headed abroad, check current global outbreaks via the CDC (cdc.gov) or the World Health Organization (who.int), and make sure your vaccination is up to date before your departure.
Source: Antonio Crespo, M.D., chief quality officer, Orlando Health Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Florida
This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of Women's Health Magazine. For more great advice, pick up a copy on newsstands now!
Video: Pertussis (whooping cough) - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology
How to Serve an Eviction Notice
How to Do a Quick and Easy Meditation
7 Genius Ways to Hack The Panera Menu
Brogamats: The Accessory Every Yogi Needs
10 Years of Tamoxifen Better Than 5
The Best Instagrams for Non-Cheesy Workout Motivation
Being best friends with your spouse can make you happier
Michelle Obama is more admired than Melania Trump
Michael Strahan is Leaving Live for GMA
Angela Lemond, RDN