Measles on the Loose in New York City

Health officials in New York are making sure people are aware that an Australian tourist with measles visited multiple hotels and the Metropolitan Museum of Art earlier this month. Measles is incredibly contagious and is spread through the air via coughing and sneezing. According to the CDC, the virus can survive in the air for up to two hours. Symptoms usually begin 7 to 14 days after exposure and may include high fever and cough, followed by a rash. Measles may cause serious complications, like pneumonia and encephalitis, which are more likely to lead to death in young children. The vaccine’s effectiveness rate is around 90%.

In the United States and elsewhere, lower vaccine rates have been associated with the anti-vaccine movement, led by people who mistakenly believe vaccines cause autism. I have no doubt the government is out to get us, and I am all for conspiracy theories, but that’s not what is happening here. The Washington Post notes:

Despite global efforts to combat the disease, measles has remained a serious threat, mostly to children in the developing world. In 2016, there were 89,780 measles deaths worldwide, the first year the figure dipped below six figures, the World Health Organization said

The disease has sometimes roared back in the United States in incidents tied to anti-vaxxer efforts. For instance, MMR vaccines in Somali communities in Minnesota dropped 50 percentage points from 2004 to 2014 because of activist work there, sparking the worst measles outbreak in the state in three decades.

Not the Disney Trip You’re Expecting

Twelve cases of Legionnaires disease have been found in recent Disneyland visitors. The outbreak was traced to two cooling towers contaminated with the bacteria.

Legionnaires is a severe form of pneumonia, caused by exposure to contaminated water, or mist. It is contracting by inhaling the microscopic water droplets that contain the bacteria and develops two to ten days after exposure. Outbreaks have been linked to a variety of water sources: hot tubs, swimming pools, air conditioners, and other water systems in large buildings. It is treatable via antibiotics (while they still work anyway), but can lead to life-threatening complications and may be fatal. People with weakened immune systems are especially at risk.

Meanwhile, Disney has shut down the contaminated cooling towers and treated them with chemicals to destroy the bacteria. A bit of an ominous uptick in Legionnaires has been recorded this year. According to the LA Times:

Orange County has recorded more than 55 cases of the disease this year and has seen the number of cases jump in recent years. A similar upward trend has been seen nationally and elsewhere in Southern California, according to the healthcare agency, though what’s causing that is unclear.

Probably Nothing to Worry About

But the world is running out of antibiotics, according to a WHO report. Certainly I wouldn’t wouldn’t worry about it light of any possible impending pandemic.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardize progress in modern medicine,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including TB, otherwise we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives from minor surgery.”

In addition to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, WHO has identified 12 classes of priority pathogens – some of them causing common infections such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections – that are increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics and urgently in need of new treatments.

Tuberculosis, by the way, is spread via the air and affects your lungs. It used to be the leading cause of death in the 20th century. Then came antibiotics. What happens without them? And what happens without the antibiotics used to treat even more common infections like UTI’s? Well, with everything else going on, let’s hope we don’t find out.

Pregnant Women and the Swine Flu

The New York Times article, “Drugs Urged for Swine Flu in Pregnancy” is a good reminder that though you may be hearing less about the swine flu, it is certainly not something to forget.

Pregnant women who get swine flu are at such high risk of complications like pneumonia, dehydration and premature labor that they should be treated at once with the antiviral drug Tamiflu — even though it is not normally recommended in pregnancy, the CDC said Tuesday.  Tamiflu is not normally recommended for use by pregnant women because the effects on the unborn child are unknown, according to its maker, Roche.

American doctors are often reluctant to prescribe flu drugs for pregnant women unless they develop severe symptoms like pneumonia. Pregnant women are often reluctant to take medication. A pregnant woman is at higher risk from flu because hormonal changes depress the immune system to protect the fetus.

Details about the death of the pregnant woman in Texas emerged Friday in the disease centers’ weekly morbidity and mortality report. Dr. Jamieson said the woman had mild asthma and psoriasis, but was relatively healthy. The woman has been widely identified as Judy Trunnell, 33.

Follow PlagueGirl on Twitter!