Measles, Rubeola or Morbilli is one of the most highly contagious airborne viruses, the paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus, and is a contagious infectious disease. It is also known as “red measles," or "hard measles". It is so contagious that 90% of all unvaccinated people in a room with an infected person will contract it. Measles is primarily a respiratory system infection.
Rubeola should not be confused with Rubella, which is the scientific name for German measles, of the genus of Rubivirus, and a different illness from a different virus. German measles is not as fatal, but still very dangerous as it can cause birth defects, miscarriage, and fetal death.
The most common way Measles, Rubeola, or Morbilli is spread is by those with the disease coughing or sneezing infected droplets into the air. The disease goes into an unsuspecting victim through their respiratory airway. The virus replicates itself in the tracheal and bronchial epithelial cells. The next stage (within approximately 2 to 4 days) is infection of the lymphatic tissues then to various organs. Other symptoms may include a low grade fever, appearance of a head cold, cough, and conjunctivitis and then a skin rash. From the onset of Measles, Rubeola, or Morbilli the body’s immune system is greatly compromised and for several weeks or even months after the virus appears to be gone it leaves the body vulnerable to secondary infection or disease. Bronchopneumonia is one of the more common opportunistic infections that increase the chance of mortality in individuals infected with the Measles virus.
Measles, Rubeola, or Morbilli can also cause other illnesses such as acute encephalitis and a rare but very serious degenerative disease called Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). This disease (SSPE) can occur several years after the onset of measles.
In 1963 the first inactive measles vaccine was licensed in the United States, but by 1967 it was withdrawn from the market. On March 21, 1963 a live measles vaccine was licensed in the U.S. Three years later in 1966 the CDC (Center for Disease Control) announced their first measles national eradication campaign. Within 2 years there was a 90% decrease in the occurrence of the measles virus.
1985 to 1988 brought newly discovered cases of measles from children that had previously been vaccinated. Therefore it was recommended that children between the ages of 5 and 19 receive a second measles vaccination. This would help those that had not built up immunity to measles with the first dose alone. Despite their efforts an epidemic broke out in the U.S during 1989 to 1990 with over 55,000 cases reported (most less than 5 years of age) resulting in 123 deaths associated with the disease. Of those who had lost their life from complications of measles 90% of them had not been vaccinated.
In 1998 a very controversial research paper linking the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine to Autism was published by the Lancet, one of the main authors being Dr. Andrew Wakefield. In February 2010 CNN Health reported the Lancet had retracted the paper saying “The study subsequently had been discredited, and last week, the lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research.” This report by Dr. Andrew Wakefield could have been beginning of the cause of parents opting out of having their children get the MMR vaccine. There are still many controversial reports currently available that discredit or support this claim.
Research has shown in developing countries the mortality rate is 1 in 4. No measles vaccines, malnutrition, and lack of vitamin A were found to be contributing factors in the disease stricken population susceptibility to acquiring the measles. Fortunately there are several organizations helping developing countries to do mass vaccinations for their people. One in particular is The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations.
Measles, Rubeola, or Morbilli, an airborne pathogen, still remains a serious problem worldwide but much could be done to eliminate this deadly disease. The first would be to get vaccinated, then keep hands clean by washing with soap and water, and sanitize surfaces especially in areas where people are being cared for due to accident of illness. And last but certainly not least promote cleaner indoor air by using photocatalytic oxidation to destroy airborne pathogens.