You will all have noticed that I vanished rather suddenly right around Charly’s birthday. Her birthday posts are sitting half written in drafts and the dozens of story ideas I’ve had are still sitting in their folder waiting for me. Many of you follow me on social media; I post daily on Instagram, a daily photo of our girl and a short catch up on where we are at. Those who do, will have seen we were hit hard the week after Charly’s party with suspected measles or scarlet fever. The doctor couldn’t be sure which, but said because Charly was vaccinated it wasn’t serious, so treat the symptoms and move on. At the time, I was just relieved that she would be ok. But then I started thinking…
Measles is a very very dangerous illness for those who aren’t vaccinated or immune. It is one of the most easily spread viruses – staying alive on surfaces for up to 2 hours – and it can cause massive complications… Diarrhea, dehydration, brain infection (encephalitis), pneumonia, blindness and death. And these side effects aren’t unusual or rare, and are much worse for children under 2 or adults.
There was a time a few years ago where measles was considered eradicated in many places. Until that idiot doctor sold his soul and faked a link between vaccinations and autism and the world of parents looking for a cause jumped on the bandwagon. Now we are back to hundreds of thousands of deaths every year across the world. People who choose not to vaccinate their children are not only risking their children’s lives – which should be illegal – they are actively allowing other people’s children to die – which is essentially culpable homicide. However, that isn’t really the point of this article.
While relieved that Charly wasn’t in any real danger, seeing her covered in these spots really affected me. I’m not sure why, because I knew they weren’t dangerous, but I felt tearful every time I looked at her. It was scary. The rash, the fevers, her being tired and still. Hearing it “wasn’t serious” did nothing to ease the mom fear.
I did some reading about measles and scarlet fever to find out more and make sure she was really really safe, and I came across an article on News24 about the measles outbreak in Stellenbosch. I immediately understood the need to notify the right people to ensure the measles virus didn’t cause an epidemic and allow the department of health to get immunisations and boosters to people in the infected areas.
Although I wasn’t sure whether Charly had had the measles, I found the contact information for the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and got hold of them to ask what the procedure was for reporting these things. I was massively impressed by their response. Multiple people from NICD and Western Cape Gov followed up with me within a few hours, offering advice and guidance.
Firstly, and most importantly, I found out that doctors are ALWAYS meant to do a blood test when measles is suspected and that they need to report it to the right people. The reporting procedures should be known to all doctors.
It just so happened that I was knocked off my feet a few days after Charly’s rash cleared. I thought I was suffering from exhaustion from roughly 5 weeks of us being sick, or possibly that my unhealthy lifestyle had just caught up with me in the form of some awful disease; so I went and had a whole battery of tests done. The next day I was covered in spots (just as a side note, if you have ever suffered from skin issues – as I have – looking in the mirror when you are covered in a spotty virus can be VERY traumatic). My glands were very swollen all round, my eyes, ears and throat were very inflamed, I had mid-range fevers, crazy headaches, I was tired to my bones, and being somebody who has joint issues, I had severe arthritic joint pain that made it very difficult to sleep. My doctor said it was either measles or german measles, but more likely the latter.
The first blood tests came back as positive for one or the other (and luckily clear for all the other possibilities). I adore my doctor. He is one of the sweetest most thoughtful humans on the planet. My daughter adores him and I wouldn’t take her away from him unless I really had to. But. I was really upset when he said that whichever it was, further blood tests would be purely academic and wouldn’t change anything for me. He knows how I feel about needles, so it was likely him being considerate of me, but I insisted on having the tests done. I am terrified of needles; I always get tearful with every shot or blood draw – pregnancy never changed that for me sadly. So why on earth would I do this?
BECAUSE WE HAVE A MORAL OBLIGATION TO MORE THAN OURSELVES!!
If it was Measles (Rubeola), it needed to be reported to the NICD so that they could move resources into the area to vaccinate or provide booster shots to anybody at risk. So that little lives don’t have to be pointlessly lost. So that babies too young for vaccines weren’t permanently mentally or physically disabled. So that adults who might not know if they are immune don’t end up blind or sterile. There were 3 other children in Charly’s class (that I know of) that were diagnosed as having measles; not one of those doctors did blood tests to find out if it was actually measles or to report to the relevant people.
The second I found out Charly might have measles I contacted the doctors and read everything I could get my hands on to find out if she would have been contagious at her birthday party the Saturday before the rash appeared. I was massively relieved to be able to let all my friends (4 of whom are pregnant, 1 of whom had their 4 month old with her) that measles is only contagious 4 days before and after the rash appears, so they were safe.
If it was German Measles (Rubella), it was contagious 5 days before and after the rash. German Measles is usually relatively mild, much like a bad cold with a light rash starting on the face and moving down the body for 3 days. Complications can include brain infections, bleeding problems, bronchitis and pneumonia and, as an adult, there is an increased likelihood of joint pain (arthritic-like symptoms). These are complications rather than common symptoms; there are some people who don’t even realise they have it.
And yet, if it was German Measles, EVERY parent at Charly’s school needed to be notified immediately – because German Measles is almost always fatal to an unborn baby in the early stages.
Imagine! Imagine sending your child back to school after 4 days, because you thought it was measles or just because they seemed better and it was safe to do so. Imagine that YOUR child carried the German Measles into that classroom and passed it on to another child. Imagine that the child YOUR child gave German Measles to goes home to their mommy, who is pregnant. These are 3- or 4-year-old children, so many many of their mommies have taken the leap and are expecting their second or third child around this stage. Imagine knowing that YOU are responsible for the loss of their unborn baby… Because it was not necessary for you or your child to have the test because you would be fine.
German Measles causes Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) in babies infected in utero in the early trimesters of pregnancy. CRS symptoms are devastating and in the first trimester will often cause miscarriage. Should the baby survive, they could have one, many, or all of the following symptoms: deafness, eye deformities, congenital heart disease, damage to organs including the heart, liver, spleen and bone marrow, physical deformities such as an abnormally small head or undersized jaw, bleeding under the skin, low birth weight, and intellectual disability. All children who were exposed to Rubella in utero need to be watched after birth for autism, developmental delays, Schizophrenia, growth retardations, learning disabilities, Diabetes mellitus and Glaucoma.
I was really upset when I was found out that Rubella vaccination (in particular the MMR) is on the Private vaccination list but not the Public one in South Africa. The reason for this is that it is felt that most people catch it when they are young, when it is not dangerous. This usually means that they are likely immune by child bearing age. The NICD said their hope was that it would be added to the state sector within the next few years.
There are parts of the world where Rubella is completely eradicated, because the vaccination is actively given to all children. Risking the lives of unborn babies or life-long disability and defect is seen as a very valid reason to ensure every child is vaccinated. In many developed countries, being tested and vaccinated for Rubella in women of childbearing age is standard and always done when a woman comes in to check that her body is healthy and ready to fall pregnant. You aren’t able to receive the vaccination once you are pregnant.
I have a very dear acquaintance who shared her devastating loss when her baby was found to not be “viable” after she contracted German Measles at 15 weeks pregnant. She had to “terminate her pregnancy” by being medically induced and delivering her first child at 16 weeks. She was vaccinated as a child, but did not receive a booster and so her body was no longer immune. Nobody told her it was a risk. She wouldn’t have hesitated to get a booster if she was told to when she was preparing for falling pregnant.
Another mommy close to me has a 6 month old with Baby Measles (Roseola). Unlike the other two variations, Baby Measles is not dangerous. It is most common in babies between 6 months and 2 years old. Its symptoms are a slight cold, a very high fever (over 39′) for 3 days, followed by a pink flat or blotchy rash that can be mild and barely noticeable or dark and wide spread. It rarely reaches the face or legs. By the time the rash arrives, baby isn’t sick anymore. There is no vaccination against it, as it isn’t a dangerous illness and is unlikely to cause harm. Charly had it at around 11 months, and the fevers scared me half to death. Her rash was very faint. I can’t even find a photo where you can see it.
The image below is from one of my Supermommy interviews I did a few years ago, where the little one had a really bad roseola experience.
My only concern around my friend’s baby is that my friend, the mommy, was diagnosed with full blown Measles due to the appearance of Koplik’s spots (white spots in the mouth). These white spots are considered diagnostic, though it is rare for them to be seen because they are temporary and usually appear before the person is at their most ill. It is not possible to catch measles from a baby with Roseola.
Their doctor said she might have caught it from her 4-year-old being vaccinated recently as it may shed live cells – this is terrifying to me. Not because I believe it is true at all, but because in hours and hours of research and reading medical papers and international disease control websites and the WHO and the CDC, I couldn’t find a single thing saying that it is possible to shed from vaccination.
In fact, I went back to the NICD and asked them about it and they said, “Measles is a live vaccine but does NOT spread from person to person. The vaccine can cause mild fever and rash in the person who receives the vaccine, but it doesn’t spread from person to person. The measles vaccine is safe and highly effective at preventing severe measles. (Reference: WHO position paper No 35, 2009, 84:349-360) You can download it here World Health Organisation (WHO) measles position paper 2009)
Every reputable source I found said there is no risk of a child being contagious after receiving the vaccination, even though the child may get a fever and be unwell for a few days in the worst cases. The only place I can find anything on this is on incredibly biased anti-vaxxer publications, where people with no medical background or training extrapolate the term “live” to mean things that suit their purposes.
So, YES, I felt I HAD to get blood tests done. I know 11 people who are pregnant right now. 11 people who I could have unknowingly given a disease that could have put them through the most traumatic experience of their lives. I had German Measles.
I quarantined myself for a full week after the rash appeared, to ensure I didn’t accidentally infect anybody. I contacted the NICD to notify them of the blood test results. I contacted Charly’s school to tell them I had it, so they could notify the parents. To my knowledge, they haven’t let anybody know as yet. I asked one of the other parents in her class if their little one had the German Measles (I know they have a 3 month old at home who wouldn’t have been vaccinated). He had no idea anyone in the class had had it.
Have people always been so incredibly selfish? What is WRONG with an entire generation of doctors across the country brushing off blood tests that are at most a slight inconvenience, at the expense of other people’s lives? I am feeling very disillusioned with the world right now.
PLEASE, if you haven’t been vaccinated or you don’t know if you are immune, go get tested! Measles vaccinations can be given at any age, protect yourself and your family and the families around you. And if you suspect you have one of these infectious diseases, get the blood test done and make sure your doctor reports it! Right now, it seems as if South Africa is going through a surge of these illnesses, so if your little one has extreme fevers and starts to get spots, push hard for the doctors to DO THE TESTS to make sure your unvaccinated baby isn’t going to have a potentially fatal side effect with no warning, because they are a certain age and it is easier for a doctor to assume they have the harmless Roseola.
What are your thoughts on the blood tests? Would you have gotten your blood taken to know which illness you had?
Anyway. No more rants for a while – pinky swear!! This isn’t “the new me”. I have a few things on the go, fun, exciting, birthday post, party post, giveaways, helpful info, and (fingers and toes crossed), our household is healthy so I plan on getting things done finally!
Sending all the love xx