My new favorite science blogger online is Beatrice the Biologist, a cartooning biologist (or biologist cartoonist?). Here’s her take on mumps, measles, and rubella (and why vaccinating is a really good idea): Forgotten Diseases.
I had a close encounter with measles recently. I was freaked out to discover that the rate of infection is 90%, which is insanely high. In other words, if 10 people (who are not immune) breath the same air as someone with measles (because it spreads through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing), then 9 of them will likely catch the disease. And 2 of those people will likely also come down with pneumonia. If, god forbid, any of those people are pregnant, then their chances of miscarrying go way up. And, although the chances are lower than 1 in 10, you can also get encephalitis (brain swelling that can cause brain damage) or die because of the disease. Worldwide, 164,000 people die from measles every year.
The easiest and safest way to get immunity? Get vaccinated, if you are not already. That would be a really good 2014 New Year’s Resolution (and much easier to keep than, say, losing weight).