Why was measles considered a mandatory disease for a child? What is the danger of measles for a child? Are there any guarantees against severe complications? Under what conditions can measles be defeated?
“Disease of unique distribution” – the largest Soviet epidemiologist L. V. Gromashevsky called so. Precisely because susceptibility to measles is almost one hundred percent, few people managed to avoid this infection in childhood. So there was the idea that every child should suffer measles, “What can be, should not be avoided,” considered the parents. And they did not seek to protect the child from measles. In ancient times, even the custom was common: if a single child got sick in a family, healthy people were put in bed next to him in order to “get rid of him at once.”
Compared to other deadly infections that were common at that time, measles might have seemed harmless. But it does not always end safely. According to world statistics, in the 60s of our century, this infection claimed 3 million lives every year around the globe.
The main danger of measles is. that it drastically reduces the protective forces of a child, especially a small and weakened one, and this clears the way for a secondary bacterial infection, most often causing pneumonia or otitis.
With bacterial complications of measles, as a rule, it is possible to cope, although for young children weakened by chronic diseases, they present a considerable danger.
But there is one difficult, albeit rare, fortunately, complication, against which there is no effective means yet. This is encephalitis due to the effects of the measles virus on the brain. It is impossible to predict the occurrence of such a complication or interrupt its development, and the consequences are sometimes tragic.
In recent years, it has also become clear that measles virus is capable in some cases even after recovery for a long time in the body, penetrating into the brain tissue. At the same time a severe, slowly progressive disease of the central nervous system develops – subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.
Scientists have long sought to find a means of preventing measles, to some extent, the disease can be alleviated or even prevented with the help of gamma-globulin containing measles antibodies. But, firstly, it is effective only if it is administered to the child in the incubation period of the disease, that is, when the infection has already occurred, and the disease has not yet developed. It is not always possible to catch this moment – measles is an extremely volatile airborne infection. In order to infect, it is enough to have the most fleeting contact with a patient, which you may simply not be aware of.
In addition, gamma globulin, even if it was introduced on time, protects against the disease for a while. The protein structures in it break up in about three weeks, and the child is again not protected against measles.
Only prophylactic vaccination solves the problem of preventing this infection. The creation of measles vaccine is a big victory for medical science. And that goal. which had previously seemed so distant — the complete eradication of measles — has now become quite real.
The successes of measles vaccine prevention are explained by the fact that its causative agent is a resistant virus, it does not change its properties when it is circulated, like, for example, the influenza virus. The source of infection is only a sick person, and the disease has fairly pronounced signs, there are no asymptomatic forms. In many other diseases, a healthy person can also be a source of infection – a carrier of a virus or bacteria, with no measles. Therefore, if there are no patients and no reservoir of measles virus, it disappears in the area.
But, as the experience of a number of countries shows, a sharp decrease in the incidence and, moreover, the complete eradication of measles is possible only when the number of people immune to this infection exceeds 90%. That is why the main efforts of the health authorities of some countries and the World Health Organization expansion of vaccine prevention, improvement of vaccines.
In the former Soviet Union, preventive vaccinations against measles were first started from the late 60s, and this immediately reduced the incidence of diseases by 6–7 times. However, since the first series of vaccines sometimes caused, although not dangerous, but rather pronounced reactions, doctors gave many children (by the way, not reasonably) a rejection of vaccinations. Therefore, a new sharp decline in the incidence has not yet occurred.
Today, doctors have a high-quality preventive vaccine. The reactions that it causes are insignificant, therefore withdrawal from vaccinations is justified only in rare cases.
Unfortunately, some parents, having heard from the doctor that after the vaccination the temperature may rise or a slight indisposition, begin to fluctuate: maybe you shouldn’t have to vaccinate after all?
Know: if you refuse vaccinations, it means that you choose a disease! The third is not given, since the only reliable guarantee against measles is preventive vaccination. A disease can have very bad consequences. What to do if the child is sick? The causative agent of measles is not amenable to the action of drugs, and the doctor prescribes therapeutic drugs only in cases when complications develop. Home care for the child – good care. Put his bed so that the bright light does not fall into the eyes, but there is no need to hang the window. Every day, wipe the floor with a damp cloth, make sure that there is no dust anywhere, often ventilate the room.
Do not forget to wash your baby thoroughly, wash hands with soap and water, wash eyes with cotton swabs moistened with boric acid solution (a teaspoon for a glass of water).
A special diet is not required, the child can eat everything that he eats usually, but it is desirable that his menu contains more foods rich in vitamins – vegetables, fruits, juices. In the midst of a disease, appetite is usually reduced, and this must be considered. Do not try to feed the child by force, just try to drink more. After eating, give him a cup of boiled water – rinse your mouth. This will help prevent stomatitis, one of the frequent complications of measles.