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Preventing Measles Mumps and Rubella

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Preventing Measles Mumps and Rubella


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Measles Mumps and Rubella: Facts
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) is not a single disease but three separate diseases each caused by a completely different virus.
  • Although often and wrongly dismissed as trivial, each disease can cause serious problems in children.
  • Measles is one of the most highly infectious diseases and is spread through droplets from coughing and sneezing.
  • The most common complications are ear infections and pneumonia but some children will go on to develop convulsions and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Death occurs in 1 in 5000 cases.
  • Mumps is also spread by droplets. The virus frequently affects the nervous system causing deafness, headache, meningitis and encephalitis.
  • Rubella (sometimes called German measles) is a mild disease but can lead to encephalitis.
  • However, Rubella is particularly dangerous if contracted during the first 8 to 10 weeks of pregnancy, causing damage to the unborn baby resulting in death or blindness, deafness, heart, brain, liver and lung damage.
  • Following introduction of the MMR vaccine in 1988, the incidence of all three diseases has fallen to very low levels.
  • There has been much publicity about giving a single vaccine for each disease separately, rather than giving the combined triple vaccine (MMR) to protect against all three diseases, through the misunderstanding that MMR may cause bowel disease or autism. The conclusion of experts from all over the world, including the World Health Organization, is that there is no link between MMR vaccines and bowel disease or autism.
  • The World Health Organization advises against using separate vaccines for the simple reason that doing so would leave children at risk and offer no benefits. No country in the world recommends giving MMR as three separate vaccines. Giving the vaccines separately may be harmful because it leaves children open to the risk of catching measles, mumps or rubella. By having them all at once, your child is protected against all three diseases as soon as they have had the MMR injection.
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