Measles: Why it’s so deadly, and why vaccination is so vital

A sign at a clinic in Vancouver, Washington on Jan. 25, 2019 asks unvaccinated children 12 and younger to leave the facility. Gillian Flaccus/AP Photos

(Paul Duprex/ The Conversation) — On the darkest day of 2018, the winter solstice, we at the Center for Vaccine Research at the University of Pittsburgh tweeted, with despair, a report in the Guardian that measles cases in Europe reached the highest number in 20 years.

Why was this a cause for concern? Europe is far away from the United States, and as some people apparently believe measles is a benign, childhood disease that causes a bit of a rash, a dribbling nose and a few spots, right? What was all the fuss about?

Well as George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Collective amnesia about the virulence of this disease has driven us to forget that measles virus has killed tens of millions of infants throughout history. Now, with several ongoing outbreaks across our own country, this unnecessary threat is back. (…)

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