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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

Indiana Measles Update - Consequences of Measles Outbreaks

By February 19, 2012

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There is another case of measles in Indiana - bringing the total case count up to 14 already.

So in just two weeks, they have gone from 4 cases to 14 and with so many people exposed at area churches, schools, and stores, etc., it is likely that the outbreak isn't over yet.

What are some of the consequences of this outbreak, besides 14 people being sick with measles?

  • canceled activities, including after-school activities and practices, district-wide at Noblesville Schools after at least 2 students were among the confirmed cases
  • fifty-four unvaccinated students from two schools who will have to miss school, likely for at least 21 days after the last reported case
  • extra vaccination clinics to immunize 29 staff members and students at area schools
  • extra cleaning of the schools and school buses
  • the cost of controlling the outbreak, which has ranged from $130,000 to $800,000 in other recent outbreaks

Fortunately, we haven't seen any of the more serious complications of measles infections in this outbreak, such as pneumonia, encephalitis, or more life-threatening infections. In Europe last year, where they had over 30,000 cases of measles, they also had 1,040 cases of pneumonia, 26 cases of measles encephalitis, and 8 deaths.

There was also a report last week of a child who is dying with another, less well known late complication of measles, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). On average, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis occurs about seven years after having a natural measles infection. The CDC reports that it causes a "progressive deterioration of behavior and intellect, followed by ataxia (awkwardness), myoclonic seizures, and eventually death."

There were two reports of children in Europe being diagnosed with SSPE last year, after developing measles as children before they were vaccinated, and now there is this case in Albany, Oregon.

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