Friday, February 13, 2015

The Current Epidemic

When I returned from out of town last week, the colleague who covered had a story.

He had cared for flight attendant in an airport hotel suffering a cough, high fever, runny nose, and sore throat. It seemed like the usual upper respiratory infection until he saw the spotty rash over her body. She had measles.

Does that ring a bell?... Measles may be the world’s most contagious disease. If you’re in a room someone with measles passed through hours earlier, you may catch it.

It’s also nasty. Even today, one or two per thousand victims die and a larger number are left deaf or brain damaged. I grew up before children were vaccinated against childhood illnesses; we actually caught them. I had measles at six and still remember how sick I felt. My chicken pox and mumps were trivial by comparison.

My colleague informed the airline that a flight attendant fresh from a crowded plane had measles; he also alerted hotel management. You can imagine the reception. Being much younger than I, he had been immunized, but he hurried to get another measles shot.

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