MMR - Measles, Mumps, Rubella

THE DISEASES:

  

MEASLES is a mild viral disease that usually causes fever and rash in children and sometimes in adults. It’s early phase has symptoms of fever, lethargy, cough, runny nose and loss of appetite. In about 2 to 4 days a rash starts on the face, spreads to the trunk and then to the arms and legs.

 

MUMPS is also caused by a virus and begins with flu-like symptoms. A high fever of 103°F and swelling of the salivary glands follow over the next few days.  Treating the symptoms includes rest, over-the-counter pain relievers to bring down the fever, plenty of fluids, and eating a soft diet of soup, yogurt, and other foods that aren’t hard to chew or swallow.  You can usually return to work or school about one week after a doctor diagnoses your mumps, if you feel up to it.  By this point you’re no longer contagious.  


RUBELLA is also a type of measles, though it is less common and has milder symptoms. About 25 to 50% of people with rubella infection have no symptoms or signs.  Swollen lymph nodes may occur in the back of the neck.  Unfortunately, a pregnant woman who gets the disease can transfer it to her unborn child producing birth defects and possible miscarriage.


THE VACCINE:


The MMR vaccine is listed on the CDC schedule for 1-yr-olds, to be given along with as many as 6 other shots.  A booster is needed at 4-6 years. 


Ingredients in the vaccine include:  MRC-5 cells (these are cells from aborted fetuses), monosodium L-glutamate, neomycin (antibiotic), recombinant human albumin, and bovine calf serum along with the deactivated live viruses and a variety of other chemical stabilizers and preservatives.


Per the manufacturer's insert, side effects  range from mild (redness, rash or pain at the injection site, fever, swelling of the glands in the neck or cheeks and atypical measles) to  serious.  The more serious adverse events following vaccination include seizures, thrombocytopenia, pneumonia, meningitis, encephalitis, chronic arthritis, brain damage, permanent loss of hearing, autoimmune disorders and even death.   


OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:


Unlike the MMR vaccine, wild measles infection confers lifetime immunity from measles.  In contrast, vaccination-induced immunity often wains over time.  Many diseases, including measles, are much more virulent for adults than for children.  Mumps, for example, is a mild disease for children, but can cause sterility in men and women after puberty.


Having infections like measles in childhood may also reduce the risk of various cancers (see study here).  Indeed, there are numerous studies that show reduced risk of various conditions such as atopic disease, heart disease, Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas for those who have had these childhood illnesses.   

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