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Common Diseases of Children

by Barbara Olivier

In researching genealogy, you may find ancestors who were considered idiotic or blind. In many cases these symptoms were the result of some childhood illness such as Measles. German measles is a mild viral illness caused by the rubella virus.

Rubella, also called German Measles or three-day Measles, and highly contagious disease caused by the rubella virus. It begins with a rash on the face and spread all over the body. Most children are immunized beginning at 12 months of age.

Measles/Rubella can be very serious if a pregnant woman becomes infected with rubella in the first 3 months of pregnancy can cause serious injury to the fetus, resulting in heart damage, blindness, deafness, mental retardation, miscarriage, or stillbirth.

Years ago, before effective prevention, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella were common, serious childhood diseases. A virus that wasn't identified until 1962 caused rubella, the disease itself was first described late in the 18th century. The first physicians to describe it were German, hence the name German Measles.

The name rubella was given in an outbreak at a British boys' school in India in 1841. The last major epidemic of rubella in the U.S. was in the spring of 1964. An effective vaccine was marketed beginning in the early 1970s!

This vaccine, which, is given at 12 to 15 months, along with vaccines for Measles and Mumps. A booster is given before starting school. This vaccine is known as MMR.

My own story began in 1964 with pregnancy of Connie Hope Olivier and that is where she got her middle name Hope. I was not immune but remembered having some kind of Measles when I was a child and was very sick with a high fever but was perhaps another kind of Measles or childhood illness.

There is an injection (immunoglobulinn) for someone who is not immune who has come into contact with the Rubella/German Measles disease, as a way of protecting susceptible pregnant women who have come into contact with rubella. My being one of those mothers who had already been diagnosed with the Measles took the shot but with no hope of it helping.

Connie and I spent many hours in Clinics for research in hoping to find that vaccine they started marketing in 1970. Our efforts were rewarded for adults and children all over the world today. Connie had cataracts removed when she weighed 13 pounds and wore thick lens in her glasses all her life improving to 20/200 (legally blind). She was later fitted with hearing aids with 50 % hearing loss.

Today she is married and works at a place designed for the blind.

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