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With measles outbreaks in 49 countries, should you worry?

contagious: Adjective for any disease that can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected individual or the germs that they shed into the air, their clothing, or their environment. These diseases are called contagious. Or it can be an idea or behavior that is transmitted from person to person.

COVID-19: Name given to the disease that erupted into a massive global pandemic in 2020. It first emerged in 2019 and is caused by a new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms may include pneumonia, difficulty breathing, feeling too tired to walk more than a few steps, fever, headaches, low blood oxygen levels, blood clots, and brain “fog.”

develop: To emerge or cause to arise, either naturally or through human intervention, such as through manufacturing. (in biology) Grow as an organism from conception to adulthood, often undergoing changes in chemistry, size, mental maturity, or sometimes even shape.

developing world: A region with relatively little industry and a lower standard of living than industrialized countries, such as the United States, Germany, and Japan.

epidemiologist: Like health detectives, these investigators seek to link a particular disease to what might have caused it and/or allowed it to spread.

flu: Abbreviation for flu. It is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract that causes fever and severe pain. It often occurs as an epidemic.

germ: Any single-celled microorganism, such as a bacteria or species of fungus, or a virus particle. Some germs cause illness. Others can promote the health of more complex organisms, including birds and mammals. However, the health effects of most germs are still unknown.

immune system: A set of cells and their responses that help the body fight infections and deal with foreign substances that can cause allergies.

infect: (adj. infectious) Transmit a disease from one organism to another. This usually involves introducing some type of disease-causing germ into an individual.

located: Adjective for something that has a very local impact. (antonym: broad or powerful)

measles: A very contagious disease that usually affects children. Symptoms include a characteristic rash all over the body, headaches, runny nose and cough. Some people also develop conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the brain (which can cause brain damage), and pneumonia. The last two complications can cause death. Fortunately, a vaccine has been available since the mid-1960s that dramatically reduces the risk of infection.

outbreak: The sudden appearance of a disease in a population of people or animals. The term can also be applied to the sudden onset of devastating natural phenomena, such as earthquakes or tornadoes.

pandemic: Outbreak of a disease that affects a large proportion of the population in much or most of the world.

pediatrician: A doctor who works in the field of medicine that has to do with children and especially children’s health.

vaccine: (v. vaccinate) A biological mixture that resembles a disease-causing agent. It is given to help the body build immunity against a particular disease. The injections used to administer most vaccines are known as vaccines.

virus: Tiny infectious particles made up of genetic material (RNA or DNA) surrounded by proteins. Viruses can only reproduce by injecting their genetic material into the cells of living beings. Although scientists frequently refer to viruses as living or dead, in fact many scientists maintain that no virus is truly alive. It does not eat like animals do or make its own food like plants do. It must hijack the cellular machinery of a living cell in order to survive.