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Measles (1850-Present)

  • By: Malkin-Dubins Lilia
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

Measles is a viral illness that is highly contagious. Affected individuals develop a characteristic constellation of symptoms, including fever and rash. A significant proportion of the infected population may progress to life-threatening complications. In large-scale disasters that produce displaced populations and mass housing, measles can become epidemic and add to the death toll. Measles vaccination has substantially reduced morbidity and mortality from the illness, and has become an important component of disaster response.

Measles was described by physicians as early as the 7th century B.C.E. Rhazes, a Persian physician, compared it with smallpox in the 10th century. Measles contributed to the decline of Native American populations in the Western Hemisphere after Europeans arrived in the 1500s. In the mid-19th century, the Danish physician Perter Panum documented ...

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