Diseases: Everything Old is New Again

By AOA, Special for  USDR

In the wake of recent measles, mumps and chickenpox outbreaks, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) urges the public to become familiar with the hallmark signs of these classic  diseases.

Osteopathic pediatrician Stanley E. Grogg, DO, professor emeritus of pediatrics at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, developed a simple reference to help patients quickly recognize the hallmark symptoms of outbreak illnesses.  Those with symptoms of these illnesses are strongly urged to isolate themselves until they are evaluated by a  physician.

Dr. Grogg, who is the AOA’s liaison to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), also recommends that medical office staff isolate patients with these classic symptoms by showing them directly to an exam room rather than seating them in public waiting  areas.

“These highly contagious illnesses are particularly challenging because most Americans under 50 have never seen measles, mumps or even chickenpox because of the historically high levels of vaccination in the U.S.,” Dr. Grogg said. “I frequently consult with younger physicians looking to confirm diagnoses because they’ve only seen these illnesses in a  textbook.”

Some key diagnostic  signs:

  • Measles: Rash that starts on the face, red eyes and bad cough
  • Mumps: Swelling above the jaw, plus aches, fever and other flu-like symptoms
  • 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

These illnesses are making a comeback due to international travel and the growing number of unvaccinated people, according to the CDC. Measles, declared eradicated by the CDC in 2000, hit a 20-year high in 2014. Vaccination is only about 88 percent effective against mumps, according to the CDC, so even those who have vaccinated may be vulnerable to the  illness.

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.

“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.

Editor’s Note: A classic symptoms infographic is available for your use at  www.osteopathic.org/classicillnesses

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.