NewsHealthAsk Dr. Nandi


It's not just measles: Tetanus, Mumps and other vaccine-preventable diseases are still in the US

Posted at 3:58 PM, Mar 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-12 09:26:37-04

(WXYZ) — While Measles continues to make headlines, it’s not the only vaccine-preventable disease that still exists here in the US.

It is very disappointing that diseases with effective vaccines to prevent them still exist. Measles for instance has become more common despite this. So far this year, the CDC reports that over 200 cases in 11 states have been confirmed. Other vaccine-preventable diseases include mumps, chickenpox, whooping cough, and tetanus. Now mumps outbreaks have been creeping up and recently there were 16 cases of it diagnosed at a Philadelphia University. And looking at last year’s data, there were over 2,000 cases reported. Now chickenpox is still being spread with over 8700 diagnoses in 2017. And the cases of whooping cough continue to fluctuate every year, with almost 19,000 reported in 2017. And although tetanus is now fairly rare, one child in Oregon was diagnosed with it. Eight weeks and many medical procedures later, he is doing well. But the medical bill was over $800,000.

The disease can be very serious. Measles can be very dangerous for children under 5. It can lead to pneumonia, brain damage and death. Now mumps causes swollen salivary glands that puff out the cheeks. Complications like meningitis or encephalitis where inflammation and swelling can affect the brain and spinal cord are rare, but can be serious and life-threatening. With chickenpox, complications can lead to bacterial infections, pneumonia and toxic shock syndrome. Whooping cough can cause violent coughing and is very dangerous for babies, causing life-threatening pauses in breathing. And lastly, tetanus can cause severe muscle spasms. Complications include pulmonary embolism, pneumonia and death by respiratory failure.

These are all vaccine-preventable diseases which can save lives. However, some parents are holding back?

It’s called “vaccine hesitancy”, where parents are reluctant or unwilling to have their children vaccinated. And the World Health Organization has declared this as a global threat. So I urge parents who are fearful of vaccines to look at credible and reliable information. There are decades of research that support the safety of vaccinations. And the bottom line, is that vaccinations can truly save lives.