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COMMUNITY AND GLOBAL HEALTH ISSUES: MEASLES

COMMUNITY AND GLOBAL HEALTH ISSUES: MEASLES

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Introduction

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases which is caused by the Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) virus. The common symptoms of measles include sneezing, coughing, running nose, red eyes, high fever and very high sensitivity to light. With the first four days of infection, the victims develop red patches along the gum lines in their months. Such patches are the most important symptoms in diagnosing measles. The ultimate symptoms of measles are red rashes at the hairline going down from the face, to the body and the limbs. Measles usually ends with a complete recovery but in some occasions, it occurs with lung and brain complications. Since the start of vaccines for measles the spread of the disease has drastically dropped (Magnus, 2008). Presently measles is very rare and as a preventive measure, all children are vaccinated against the disease.

Outbreak of measles

The outbreak of measles in a community, country or region can be very disastrous if appropriate measures are not immediately taken. In the early 19th century, measles was considered a very deadly disease and whoever came into contact with the disease died (Lautenbach et al, 2010). According to Redd, Markowitz and Katz (2009), measles is transmitted through air such that infected droplets are released by coughing, sneezing and talking. The outbreak and spread of measles can be necessitated by the social functions that a community may be involved in such as churches, communal activities and other social gatherings. Individuals with low respiratory tracts are more likely to contract measles. Infected droplets in the air are taken in to the body through the nose, mouth or eyes to the inner respiratory system. After a day or two of contracting measles, the virus penetrates the body and replicates in the respiratory system and to the entire body system especially the blood streams into the white blood cells (Atkinson et al, 2000). These blood cells became the main carriers of the various all over the body thus infecting all the other parts of the body. The presence of measles virus in the body triggers the immune system thus the common symptoms of measles. The rashes on victim bodies’ appear when the measles virus infects the body immune system and interacts with the antibodies and cells. The rashes begin on the face before spreading to the body, arms and legs. During this time, the coughing, fever and sneezing becomes very severe

Route of transmission of measles

Measles may be transmitted from one country to another, a community to the next or even between continents. The virus spread through air thus its transmission route is determined by the people who come across this virus. In most communities, the outbreak of measles is always triggered by a foreign virus that comes through new people visiting the community. Once the virus is transmitted to the locals, it easily finds itself to many people courtesy of social gatherings that happen in the community. The graph below represents an actual pattern of transmission of measles in 2007 to communities in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Texas:

Epidemiological indicators associated with measles

The outbreak of a disease has a direct effect on the mortality rate of the community in which the outbreak occurs. Outbreak of measles usually leads to increase in mortality of children in the community. This leads to depopulation of communities so drastically if the outbreak isn’t contained in the right time. The outbreak of measles in a given period of time may remain as a mark and indicator in its effects to the population of the community. Notably, when infection persists in a community the individuals are regularly exposed to the particular antigenic stimulus which confers on them an immunity which persists through life immunological protection is dependent on repeated stimulation (Lautenbach et al, 2010). Isolated communities may elude exposure to an infection for years.

Effects of disease outbreak to a community

The outbreak of any disease in a community is very adverse to the activities of that community. Outbreak of measles is by far more dangerous than other diseases because measles affects young children who may not have strong immune systems to fight the disease. Since measles is spread through air, its transmission may be very fast. A community needs to find appropriate measures to control the spread of measles by instituting appropriate measures that will reduce more infections. This means using more resources to quarantine the affected children and stepping up immunization campaigns among the community. The health centers, welfare and nongovernmental organizations are main players in controlling spread of any contagious disease in a community.

The outbreak of measles in a community has also an economic effect. In most cases, health directives restrict people from social gatherings such market places thus for people involved in business, the outbreak causes a drop in business results. On the other hand, attention is usually shifted from the normal activities to the fight against the outbreak thus people are likely to lose track of their economic activities. Generally, the outbreak of measles or any other disease in a community is likely to disorient the community in its normal activities until such an outbreak has been dealt with.


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Appropriate protocols for reporting outbreak of diseases

Reporting a possible outbreak of contagious disease in a community or a region calls for very strong people and relation skills. In a circumstance where the extent of the outbreak is unknown, it becomes very risk to report a particular outbreak to the community. The community health officers have been known to report disease outbreaks to the community and prescribing appropriate precautions. In a case where there are confirmed presence of SARS virus in the community, the reporting of the outbreak becomes very delicate because the disease in very contagious and deadly.

The community health providers, church leaders, welfare organizations leaders and the political icons as well as the administration in the community should be approached and through the guideline of the social workers in the community device a method to report the outbreak of SARS in the community without causing any panic or shock among the community members. As a nurse, the immediate doctors in the community health facility should be the first point of reporting then a particular health facility can work with other health care facilities, non governmental organizations, churches and the administration in the reporting procedures of the outbreak. However, reporting the outbreak of SARS in a community should be accompanied by practical measures that the community leadership have devised to control any more spread of the disease.

Medical care to individual prone to changes in air quality

Air quality index is considered poor if there are increasingly more reports on outbreak of airborne and related diseases. Individuals with respiratory related diseases such as asthma and tuberculosis respond negatively poor quality of air around them as such individual are prone to contracting airborne diseases than those without any respiratory diseases. As a community nurse, the knowledge that the air quality index is poor should trigger action in protecting the patients who are more likely to contract the disease that may result from the poor air quality.

Though it’s not possible to restrict the air that people breathe, nurses advise their patients who have respiratory problems to avoid places that are likely to be a source of airborne diseases. Though this may be difficult to ascertain, nurses usually call their patients to hospitals if they are out patients or advise them to restrict their movements to their places of residence until the air quality index is declared fit. However, this may not be the best methods to address the increased risk of contracting air borne disease thus the nurse through the doctors prescribe vaccines that are able to improve the immune systems of the patients. These vaccines are administered to fight any diseases that may result from poor quality of air. In most cases, nurses improve their contact with their patients so that any change in their respiratory system is monitored and acted upon.

Conclusion

Outbreak of diseases in a community may be caused by entry of foreigners into the community, the poor air quality index or from self generating virus. Irrespective of the cause of a disease outbreak, the mechanisms that are put in place to combat the spread of the disease is the most important thing. Many communities use immunization as a method to prevent outbreak of diseases in their communities while others have very organized systems of reporting and dealing with a disease outbreak. Since the outbreak of some disease can’t be anticipated, medical practitioners have advocated for preventive measures such as immunizations in all communities.

References

Atkinson W. et al (2000). Measles." In Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. New York: Department of Health and Human Services. Kohn, G. C (2008).

Encyclopedia of Plague and Pestilence. New York: Infobase Publishing. Lautenbach, et al (2010). Practical Healthcare Epidemiology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press Magnus, M. (2008).

Essential Readings in Infectious Disease Epidemiology. Washington: Jones & Bartlett Learning Redd, S. Markowitz, L & Katz S. (2009). Measles Vaccine. Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Sanders.


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