Disneyland is known to many as ‘The Happiest Place on Earth,’ but seven visitors to the park in December became infected with measles, a deadly but preventable virus. An unknown park guest gave the disease to an unvaccinated woman in her 20s from California. Through her, the virus has spread, via the park and airports, to more than 26 people. Confirmed cases have been reported in California, Colorado, Utah, and Washington.
An article in The Guardian reports that these cases alone would account for almost 12% of expected measles cases in an entire year. An estimated 20 million people worldwide encounter measles each year, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates only 220 people in the US will become infected.
The CDC calls measles the ‘most deadly of all childhood rash/fever illnesses.’ The virus lives in the nose and throat of those infected, and the symptoms include fever, rash, coughing, and red eyes. The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is said to be 99% effective, and is recommended for children over one year old and required for college students. Unfortunately, as many have chosen not to vaccinate, 2014 saw a nearly two-decade high in confirmed cases of measles: 644 people were infected.
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UNICEF provides immunizations for more than one third of the world’s children. If all children were immunized with existing vaccines, by 2020 we would save nearly 25 million lives. Learn more, and support UNICEF USA with its goal of stopping disease in its tracks.
Photo of child with measles: from the original article John Heseltine/Corbis