February 14th 2013
By: Dr Tyson Perez
With the recent release of a provocative children's book entitled Melanie's Marvelous Measles, a debate has ensued regarding the effectiveness and wisdom surrounding measles vaccinations. When I first heard about the book, I went to Amazon to order a copy for myself. The amount of negative reviews was staggering. People were claiming that the information was "dangerous", "harmful" and "ill-informed". Some were even calling for the book to be banned. It took me a few minutes to read it from cover to cover. Rather than critique the book, which has already been done quite eloquently by others, I would like to talk about the widespread fear surrounding measles and the misinformation regarding the vaccine.
References to measles can be found as far back as the 7th century. Measles is an RNA virus that was first isolated in 1954. A typical infection produces a characteristic skin rash starting at the head and progressing down the trunk and extremities. The rash is typically preceded by a high fever. Around this time, blue-white spots (Koplik spots) can be found on the mucous membranes. These are considered pathognomonic for measles. Other symptoms may include cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, anorexia and lymphadenopathy.