A deadly complication from measles that strikes young children several years after the initial infection could be more common than was thought previously, says a study presented recently. The study stressed the need for vaccination against this disease which was highly contagious.
Researchers also stated that based on an earlier study of children below 5 years age in Germany who were infected by the disease, the risk of affected children acquiring serious neurological disorders was some 1 in 1,700. In medical terms this complication is described as SSPE.
The recent research examined children who were affected by measles during 1990 from the large outbreak in California and found that 1 out of 1,387 could be the rate of affliction for SSPE in those children when they were originally infected before attaining the age of 5 years. However this ratio rose to 1 out of 600 for babies who were infected before reaching their first birthday.
Research professor Dr. James Cherry, who participated in the study, stated that this was a frightening variation. Dr. Cherry added that the answer to the problem was good public health. He added that everyone should receive vaccination so that herd immunity can be created to protect communities that were most vulnerable to the disease and therefore at a great risk of SSPE. Herd immunity would also protect infants who were too young to be administered the vaccine and people suffering from problems with the immune system and placing them outside the scope of vaccination.
While 12 years was the average age for SSPE diagnoses, the range was 3 to 35, according to researchers.
These findings were discussed at a meeting in New Orleans on infectious diseases week or ID week. These discussions also included details of a 5 month old baby getting measles consequent to a trip to Disneyland last year during an outbreak there.
Researchers are hoping that the data will alert parents who are against vaccination for their kids in spite of scientific evidence on their benefits and safety. Parents were also cautioned on traveling with young unprotected kids to countries, where measles was known to be endemic. Dr Cherry added that no child should visit Philippines or Europe unless he/she had at least two does of the measles vaccine. He said it was too risky otherwise.