Measles, Mumps and Whooping Cough
If you or someone you love came down with chickenpox, would you know the symptoms? What about measles, mumps, rubella or pertussis (whooping cough)?
Stanley E. Grogg, DO, a board-certified osteopathic pediatrician in Tulsa, Oklahoma, says that in the wake of recent outbreaks, it’s key for patients to recognize the signs of these classic illnesses.
People who’ve been exposed to measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox or whooping cough should isolate themselves, since the diseases are highly contagious.
Some key diagnostic signs:
- Measles: Rash that starts on the face, red eyes and bad cough.
- Mumps: Swelling above the jaw, plus aches, fever, inflamed glands and other flu-like symptoms. For adult males, the most common complication is swollen testicles.
- Rubella: Rash on face lasting two to three days.
- Chickenpox: Itchy red bumps that appear in clusters, plus flu-like symptoms.
- Pertussis: Intense coughing with a distinctive ‘whoop’ sound.
To learn more, view an infographic on the key symptoms of these illnesses.
Why the Resurgence?
These illnesses are making a comeback due to international travel and the growing number of unvaccinated people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Measles, declared eradicated by the CDC in 2000, hit a 20-year high in 2014. Vaccination is only about 88% effective against mumps, according to the CDC, so even those who have been vaccinated may be vulnerable to the illness.
What Happens if I Get Sick?
People who believe they’ve been exposed to these illnesses should consult their physician, who may be able to help prevent the disease from developing. Until you can see your physician, it’s strongly urged you isolate yourself since these illnesses are highly contagious.
Someone with the mumps, for example, is considered contagious for five to seven days after the onset of initial symptoms, and they can spread the virus rather easily through sharing liquids or eating utensils, kissing, coughing or sneezing.
“People who haven’t been vaccinated can protect themselves from measles by getting the MMR vaccine within 72 hours of exposure. With mumps, a third dose of the vaccine seems to be helpful and is particularly important for males of reproductive age, who can become sterile if the mumps virus settles in the testicles,” Dr. Grogg said.
Complications from pertussis can be life-threatening for infants less than 6 months old. They might turn blue and vomit after coughing fits. Other babies might not cough but rather develop more severe complications such as pneumonia, seizures and brain damage. Parents who suspect their child has whooping cough should immediately make an appointment with their child’s physician or seek emergency treatment if symptoms become more severe.