Measles And Us

Measles And Us

Ever heard about the story of David and Goliath? This is one on both a microscopic and global level.

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Raise your hand if you have heard about the ongoing outbreak of measles within the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a total of 127 reported cases of measles within 10 states since last fall. Just last month, Washington declared a public health emergency due to at least 50 cases arising with the state, predominately from Clark County, an area known to be highly affiliated by the anti-vaccine movement. Since then, the vaccination rate for measles has skyrocketed to an astonishing 500%, as Americans seek defense from the disease. In today's time, vaccines are incredibly important for one's health and those around them. Creating awareness for public health is crucial to maintaining a healthy society, especially in times of health scares.

Now, what is the measles disease? Measles, also known as "Rubeola" is an airborne disease, caused by Measles morbillivirus, and can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or direct contact with secretions. Measles only affects humans, there is no "measles for other animals." Once a person is infected, they will have a very irritable rash spread across their body, from head to toe, within two weeks. Some side effects of measles are fever, encephalitis, ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea, rashes, and corneal ulceration—some can create permanent damage. Dr. Pritish Tosh states that measles is mainly a childhood disease, as children are more susceptible and have a higher mortality rate when exposed to the disease. There is no cure for measles, however, antibiotics can remedy the disease during the infection period of two-to-three weeks.

So, what can we do to combat the measles virus? Well, the CDC highly recommends getting the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccination—aka the MMR vaccine—as soon and as early as possible. The MMR contains live, attenuated—or weakened by scientific methods in a laboratory—measles, mumps, and rubella—that stimulates your immune system responses, but not enough cause the symptoms of disease. The CDC recommends two doses of the MMR vaccination—the 1st at 12-15 months and the 2nd at 4-6 year—in order to empower the T and B cells that will kill off those specific pathogens in your body in the future. The earlier the exposure, the stronger the immune system response will be in the future.

So, what does it mean for the people vaccinated and those who are not? The earlier the exposure to the vaccine, the stronger the immune system response will be in the future. Last year, I learned from Professor Dr. Meysick that through artificial active immunity, the total number of antibodies within a community increases with each vaccine, protecting throughs in that community. In addition, microbiologists from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, have concluded that this herd immunity decreases the circulation of infectious agents in susceptible populations. But what does that mean for those who are not vaccinated? According to the World Health Organization, since measles is so contagious, compared to other diseases, if it infects an unvaccinated person, they will be incredibly susceptible to the disease, which increases the risk of other people in that community who are also not vaccinated or have a weak immune system to begin with. Thus, explains why measles is still so prevalent in a low vaccinated area like Clark County, Washington.

This is why the priority for vaccination should be held with the utmost importance. Since the introduction of the MMR vaccine in 1963, has reported that the prevalence of measles has decreased by at least 99%. However, the CDC and WHO warn about the common diseases held in foreign countries that people from the US have the potential to bring back and start a mass infection. That is why they express caution to one's health overseas and be vaccinated before traveling; since this fall, the CDC has traced the measles epidemic of the US all the way from Venezuela. This is why vaccines are necessary to increase our and other's immune system's strengths against foreign pathogens and diseases. In order to protect others from diseases, we must first protect ourselves.

I hope this has been informative to your health and please stay health throughout this semester. Thank you.

Sources:

Board, D. S. (2004). Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Smallpox Vaccine Down Select Process report summary. Washington D.C.: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.

Davidson, T. (2017). Vaccines: History, Science, and Issues. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood. ×Fine, P. (2014). Science and society: vaccines and public health. Public Health, 686-692.

Hanley, R. (2015). Needling the Profession. Irish Medical Times, 20. ×Kim, T. H., Johnstone, J., & Loeb, M. (2011). Vaccine herd effect. Scandinavian journal of infectious diseases, 43(9), 683-9.

Rovenský, Jozef, & Payer, Juraj. (2009). Vaccine. In Dictionary of Rheumatology (p. 221). Vienna: Springer Vienna. ×Saplakoglu, Y. (2019, February 08). Measles Outbreak Spurs Vaccination Surge in Anti-Vaxxer Hotspot. Retrieved February 20, 2019, from https://www.livescience.com/64728-measles-outbreak-spurs-vaccination.html

Soucheray, S. (2019, February 19). CDC notes multiple outbreaks, 26 new measles cases. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2019/02/cdc-notes-multiple-outbreaks-26-new-measles-cases

Sparks, D. (2017, May 11). More about measles. Retrieved February 20, 2019, from https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/more-about-measles/

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50 Things To Be Happy About

It's the little things in life.
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It is always easier to pick out the negatives in life. We tend to dwell on them and drown out the happy moments. I asked a friend to tell me something that made them happy. They sarcastically laughed at my question then thought about it for a minute. Nothing. But they could easily come up with things that made them unhappy. Then I read them my list, and they were smiling and laughing in agreement the whole time. There are so many more things to be happy and laugh about than we realize. After all- it's the little things in life that can mean the most! Here are 50 things that make me happy. What are your 50?

  1. The first warm day of the year
  2. Laughing so hard your abs ache
  3. Freshly washed sheets
  4. Looking through old pictures
  5. The smell of a coffee shop
  6. Eating cookie dough
  7. Reading a bible verse that perfectly fits your current situation
  8. Seeing someone open a gift you got them
  9. Eating birthday cake
  10. A shower after a long day
  11. Marking something off your to-do list
  12. Drinking ice cold water on a really hot day
  13. Dressing up for no reason
  14. Breakfast food
  15. Being able to lay in bed in the morning
  16. Finding something you love at the store
  17. And it’s on sale
  18. Cute elderly couples
  19. When a stranger compliments you
  20. Getting butterflies in your stomach
  21. Taking a nap
  22. Cooking something delicious
  23. Being lost for words
  24. Receiving a birthday card in the mail
  25. And there's money in it
  26. Finally cleaning your room
  27. Realizing how fortunate you are
  28. Waking up from a nightmare and realizing it wasn't real
  29. Fresh fruit
  30. Walking barefoot in the grass
  31. Singing along to a song in the car
  32. Sunrises
  33. Sunsets
  34. Freshly baked cookies with a glass of milk
  35. Summertime cookouts
  36. Feeling pretty
  37. Looking forward to something
  38. Lemonade
  39. Comfortable silences
  40. Waking up in the middle of the night and realizing you have more time to sleep
  41. Surviving another school year
  42. The cold side of the pillow
  43. The smell of popcorn
  44. Remembering something funny that happened
  45. Laughing to yourself about it
  46. Feeling weird about laughing to yourself
  47. Printed photographs
  48. Wearing a new outfit
  49. The sound of an ice cream truck
  50. Feeling confident
Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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A Second Person Has Achieved Long-Term Remission Of The HIV Virus

A second man has had long term remission of the HIV virus.

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Over a decade after the first man, known as the Berlin Patient, was declared HIV-free, another patient may also be cured. Though it's too early for scientists to say for sure, the London Patient has been in a long term remission for around 18 months without the help of medication. Both men were treated with a bone marrow transplant. However, these stem cells carried a rare mutation in the genes that affect the production of the CCR5 protein, which HIV viruses latch onto to enter the cell. The virus cannot latch onto the mutated version of the protein, thus blocking its entry into the cells.

With the transplant of these HIV resistant genes, the body effectively builds a new immune system free of the virus.

After the Berlin Patient went into remission, scientists tried and failed to replicate the cure and were unable to until the London Patient, whose HIV count has reduced into undetectable numbers. While this is extremely helpful, bone marrow transplants are not a viable option to cure all HIV infected people, as it is an extremely risky process and comes with many side effects. Even so, scientists are developing ways to extract bone marrow from HIV infected people, genetically modifying them to produce the same mutations on the CCR5 gene or the inability to express that gene at all, and then replacing it back into the patient so they can still build resistance without the negative effects of a bone marrow transplant. There have also been babies whose genomes have been edited to remove the CCR5 gene, allowing them to grow up resistant to HIV.

This does not eliminate the threat of the HIV virus, however.

There is another strand of the virus, called X4, that uses the CXCR4 protein to enter the cell. Even if the editing of the CCR5 allows immunity against one strand, it is possible for a person to be infected with the X4 strand of the virus. Despite this, immunization against one strand could save a countless number of lives, as well as the vaccine that is currently in the stages of development for HIV. Along with the London Patient, there are 37 other patients who have received bone marrow transplants, six of which from donors without the mutation.

Of these patients, number 19, known as the Dusseldorf Patient, has been off anti-HIV drugs for 4 months. It may not be a complete cure, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

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