Is The Most Terrifying Measles Complication More Common Than We Thought?

SSPE, or subacute sclerosing panencephalistis, is a neurological side effect of the measles. In almost all cases, this complication turns out to be fatal. SSPE can lie dormant for between 6 to 8 years after the measles virus. New studies have shown that this complication might be more common that doctor’s originally thought. They have seen a rise in the number of cases over the past 20 years. While there has been a rise, doctor’s are still trying to pinpoint the exact probability of occurrence.

Key Takeaways:

  • It was frightening enough for Ariel Loop to discover that her 4-month-old son Mobius had contracted measles at Disneyland almost two years ago.
  • He had received his other recommended vaccines, but he had been too young to be vaccinated against measles, a disease which kills an estimated 1 to 2 individuals per 1,000 in high-income, developed countries.
  • Her son recovered well, but by then, she learned about an even more frightening, albeit rare, risk.

“SSPE is an incurable, progressive neurological disorder that typically appears 6 to 8 years after a measles infection and attacks the central nervous system, resulting in death around 1 to 3 years later most of the time.”