December 13, 1965


JAMA. 1965;194(11):1243. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090240077027

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Now that means are at hand to prevent measles and poliomyelitis, it is interesting to compare the mortality associated with the two diseases. During 1964, seven deaths due to paralytic poliomyelitis were reported in the United States. During the same period, an estimated 400 deaths, predominantly among preschool children, resulted from measles.

Most children contract measles before they reach school age, and many parents regard it as an unwelcome but inevitable minor ailment of childhood. However, the number of children who suffer serious and permanent sequelae is not inconsiderable.

Otitis media is a common complication. Bronchopneumonia due to secondary bacterial infection usually responds to penicillin or other antibacterial agents; nevertheless, it can be a serious illness. Infrequently, pneumonia is caused by the measles virus itself. This form of the disease is unresponsive to antimicrobials and must be treated by supportive measures alone.

The most dangerous complication is encephalitis. Estimates of

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