The vaccine that represents all vaccines, Mr. MMR, aka the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine.
You’ve probably only heard about measles out of these three, the others aren’t super well known. Anymore. In this post I’m gonna give you the 411 (is that what the kids say? 411?) on these diseases, so you know what would happen if you (or your children) catch these diseases.
Measles! The most well known and most common of the three, measles is caused by the measles virus. It’s the most deadly, and the one that makes you the most sick. It has an awful progression which goes something like this.
You start with a fever, a really really hot one. Often over 40 °C, which can be super super dangerous by itself. You’ll also have a cough, maybe a runny nose and red eyes. So far sounds just like a cold, right? You’d expect that after two or three days, you’d be better, but not with measles. This is when the virus really starts the party. You’ll start noticing small white spots inside your mouth, and a rash all over your body, which often starts on your face and spreads. Symptoms can last 7-10 days, and complications of these symptoms occur in 30% of cases, including blindness, brain inflammation, pneumonia and diarrhoea. Does not sound like fun. If that were me, I’d be staying at home in bed for those two weeks or so.
But guess what! Measles is a HIGHLY contagious airborne disease, so every cough I let out at home sprays little viruses all over the house, and, if anyone in my house is unvaccinated, there’s a 90% chance they will get measles too.
I’ve shown you this graph before! I’ll show you again! This is a graph comparing the number of cases of measles worldwide with percentage of immunisation worldwide over time, since 1980 until 2009. The blue bars represent the number of cases of measles each year worldwide. As you can see, those numbers have dramatically decreased since 1980, and have stayed quite low since about 1995. The blue and red lines are estimating the percentage of people in the world who have been vaccinated against measles. As more people have got vaccinated, we can see the cases have gone down. There is a relationship there.
Mumps! Mumps is not talked about very often because we don’t see many cases of it these days (because of the high uptake of vaccines.) It’s caused by the mumps virus, and symptoms go something like this.
Day 1: I’m feverish, I have sore muscles, a headache and I feel really tired. Maybe I’m coming down with something? Or did I drink too much last night?
Day 2: I feel like, a lump in my throat? Maybe my glands are swollen? I look like I have a double chin 😦
Day 10: Wow I still feel like absolute crap, I look like a bullfrog and I’m still so tired.
Potentially you could also develop meningitis, pancreatitis, permanent deafness, testicular inflammation and ovarian swelling. Such fun. Also, it’s contagious as fuuuuuuuuuuu, and you’re infectious for like, three weeks, so good luck to anyone around you during that time!
Rubella is also called German measles, just to confuse you. It’s not the same as measles, but it can have similar symptoms. It caused by an infection with the (you guessed it) rubella virus! This is the least dangerous of the three, with about half of the people infected not realising they are sick. It progresses by starting with a rash, which can be itchy. Lymph nodes can get swollen, and you see the classic fever, headache, tiredness sore throat symptoms that come with most viral illnesses. Sometimes you can see joint pain, inflammation, testicular swelling and bleeding problems.
The real problem with rubella is in pregnant women. If a pregnant woman get infected with rubella during the early stages of their pregnancy, the child can be born with congenital rubella syndrome, or even miscarriage. Symptoms of this congenital rubella syndrome in the baby include eye problems, ear problems, heart and brain problems, which are all bad and should be avoided. Just like the others, it’s spread through the air, and just like the others, it’s SERIOUSLY infectious.
So that’s the low down on measles, mumps, and rubella. Next post I’ll talk about the vaccine, and we can debunk some BUUUUUULLSHIT 😮 Get Learned!