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Top Vaccine Preventable Diseases Still Killing Children

September 11, 2017 - Habeeb Kolade

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Despite the advancement of science and medicine to help us tackle several diseases that are otherwise fatal to children, millions of kids still remain vulnerable.  This is either due to poor education about vaccine preventable diseases or lack of resources to reach more children. n 2012, the World Health Organization estimated that vaccination prevents 2.5 million deaths each year. Learn about these vaccine preventable diseases here and share this information with people around you.

  • Measles: A highly contagious lung infection. This virus gets into the air when someone who has it coughs or sneezes. It can also last for up to 2 hours on something they touched. Measles can cause pneumonia, brain swelling, and death. Before the vaccine, 3 million to 4 million people in the U.S. got measles each year, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 400-500 died.
  • Whooping cough (pertussis): A lung infection that makes it hard to breathe due to severe coughing. People can breathe in the pertussis bacteria when someone who has whooping cough coughs or sneezes. It can be life-threatening, especially in babies less than 1-year old. Whooping cough can lead to pneumonia, seizures, and slowed or stopped breathing.
  • Flu: A viral infection of the nose, lungs, and throat. When someone with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks, droplets can spread up to 6 feet away. People get the virus from the air or by touching something the sick person touched and then touching their own nose or mouth. Up to 49,000 Americans die from the flu each year.

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  • Polio: A viral disease. The polio virus lives in the intestines. You can get infected by contact with a sick person’s feaces. Most people get no symptoms or flu-like symptoms that last a few days, but polio can cause brain infection, paralysis, and death. It was one of the most feared and devastating diseases of the 20th century. Polio cases are down sharply, thanks to vaccination but the disease is not gone from the world.
  • Pneumococcal Disease: A bacterial disease that can cause many types of illness, including pneumonia, ear and blood infections, and meningitis (which affects the brain and spinal cord) through contact with an infected person’s mucus or saliva. Its complications can be serious and fatal. As pneumonia, it’s especially deadly in people older than 65. If it causes meningitis or infects the blood, these can be life-threatening.
  • Tetanus: A bacterial disease that causes lockjaw, breathing problems, muscle spasms, paralysis, and death. These bacteria is found in soil, dust, and manure and it can get in your body through a cut or open sore. Over 10% to 20% of tetanus cases are fatal. Deaths are more common in people who are older than 60 or who have diabetes.
  • Meningococcal Disease: A bacterial disease that can cause meningitis, an infection and swelling of the brain and spinal cord. It can also infect the blood. It’s caused by bacteria that live in the back of an infected person’ nose and throat. It can spread through kissing or just living with someone who is infected. Symptoms are usually fever that starts suddenly, headache, and stiff neck. Getting diagnosed and treated as soon as possible is key. Between 1,000-1,200 people in the U.S. get meningococcal disease each year. Even with antibiotics, as many as 15% die.
  • Hepatitis B: A liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. People with hepatitis B have the virus in their blood and other bodily fluids. Adults usually spread it through sex or sharing needles. A pregnant woman can pass it to her baby. Hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than HIV, the disease that causes AIDS. It can lead to liver cancer and other long-lasting liver diseases, which can be deadly.

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  • Mumps: A disease caused by a virus that gives people swollen salivary glands, a fever, headache, and muscle aches. It also makes you feel tired and curbs your appetite. When someone with mumps coughs or sneezes, the virus gets into the air, and other people can breathe it in. It can cause long-lasting health problems, including meningitis and deafness. Mumps is now rare in the U.S., thanks to the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. But outbreaks still happen, usually among people spending time close together, like living in a dorm. 
  • (Haemophilus Influenzae Type B): A bacterial disease that infects the lungs(pneumonia), brain or spinal cord (meningitis), blood, bone, or joints. Some people have Hib bacteria in their nose or throat but are not ill.  When they cough or sneeze, the bacteria go airborne. Babies and young children are especially at risk because their immune systems are weak. Before the Hib vaccine, about 20,000 U.S. children younger than 5 got Hib each year. About 3% to 6% of them died. Other diseases with vaccines include:
  • Cholera
  • Dengue
  • Human papilloma virus (HBV)
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Pertussis
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Rabies
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tick-borne encephalitis
  • Typhoid
  • Varicella zoster

Both Children and Adults are susceptible to these diseases, especially they do not take the required vaccine early in life. Four diseases were responsible for 98% of vaccine-preventable deaths: measlesHaemophilus influenzae serotype bpertussis, and neonatal tetanus. Parents and community health practitioners should do more to prevent diseases that are easily preventable.

 

Habeeb Kolade

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