The forgotten disease returns and hits Poles with a vengeance. Avalanche increase in infections

The forgotten disease returns and hits Poles with a vengeance.  Avalanche increase in infections

Specialists are sounding the alarm. The disease is returning, which – as doctor Monika Działowska notes – “would practically no longer exist in Poland.” However, the disease makes itself felt with redoubled force. Recently, there has been an almost 12-fold increase in the number of infections.

Measles is making itself felt again. Statistics from the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate leave no doubt about this. By the end of April 2024, 128 cases of the disease were recorded. For comparison, in the same period of the previous year their number was only 11.

Why are measles cases increasing?

The disease has returned because – as doctor Monika Działowska notes – our population immunity against the measles virus has dropped below the protective level. The increasing number of people opting out of vaccinations is also becoming a problem. In 2023, it reached almost 90,000, while in 2014 it did not exceed 20,000. Prof. drew attention to this in a recent conversation with “Wprost”. Sylwia Kołtan, national consultant in the field of clinical immunology:

I always say that what we should be afraid of is not vaccines, but the diseases against which these vaccines were developed. I hope that knowledge about vaccinations in society will increase. We have excellent recommendations regarding vaccinations, the expert noted.

She also emphasized that many forgotten diseases are now being observed again. Not only measles is becoming a major threat in Poland. Compared to last year, the number of cases of whooping cough, which can be a fatal disease, has increased 10 times.

What is measles and how does it manifest itself?

It is a highly contagious disease caused by the measles virus. It manifests itself 2-4 days after infection. Its first symptoms are quite non-specific. At the beginning there is a runny nose, coughing and watery eyes, as well as a general feeling of “breakdown”. Over time, the indicated signs are joined by other symptoms, including fever and the so-called Koplik spots. These are small, white lesions with a red border occurring on the cheek mucosa. Then you may notice an erythematous rash on your body. It is not accompanied by itching and has a maculopapular appearance. The lesions first appear on the hairline and behind the ears, and then spread, often affecting the entire body. Symptoms usually disappear after 5-10 days.

Complications after measles

The disease is more severe in adults than in children. It often leads to various types of complications. The most frequently mentioned ailments include: diarrhea, hepatitis, enteritis or appendicitis. Inflammation within the nervous system – the brain or meninges – may also occur. The risk of neurological complications is higher in older children (over 10 years of age) and adults.

How to protect yourself against measles?

The most effective form of protection against measles is vaccination. In Poland, they are mandatory for children. The parent does not pay any fees for them. The little person should take two doses of MMR protective preparation. The first dose at the age of 13-15 months, and the next dose after the age of 5. The vaccine is a three-component vaccine. It protects not only against measles, but also two other diseases – mumps and rubella. The effectiveness of a full course of vaccinations ranges from 98 to 99 percent.

Adults can be vaccinated with the same preparation used for children. It is necessary to take two doses three months apart (at the earliest 4 weeks after taking the first dose). Vaccination of women during pregnancy is not recommended. You should also not become pregnant during the first month after vaccination. Adults must pay for measles protection. Its cost is several hundred zlotys. Currently, specialists recommend performing so-called post-exposure vaccinations, but they are not common practice.

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