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Measles is an extremely contagious illness transmitted through respiratory droplets and aerosolized particles that can remain in the air for up to two hours. Most often seen in young children, the disease is characterized by fever, malaise, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, cough and a red, splotchy rash. Most people with measles recover without complications within a week. However, for infants, people with immune deficiencies, and other vulnerable populations, the consequences of a measles infection can be severe. Rare complications can occur, including pneumonia, encephalitis, other secondary infections, blindness and even death. Before the measles vaccine was developed, the disease killed between two and three million people annually worldwide. Today, measles still causes more than 100,000 deaths globally each year.
Measles can be prevented with a vaccine that is both highly effective and safe. Each complication and death related to measles is a "preventable tragedy that could have been avoided through vaccination," the authors write. Some people are reluctant to vaccinate their children based on widespread misinformation about the vaccine. For example, they may fear that the vaccine raises their child's risk of...
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