Doctors provide perspective on measles after vaccines essentially wiped disease out decades ago

22 measles cases confirmed in Metro Detroit

DETROIT – The Metro Detroit measles count still stands at 22 confirmed cases, but doctors are warning that number is likely to climb.

Health experts have long said vaccines are a victim of their own success, to the point where most people have never seen any of the illnesses the vaccines help prevent. That includes many of today's doctors.

READ: Officials confirm possible measles exposure location in Macomb County

Measles was essentially wiped out nearly 20 years ago. In fact, the last case Local 4's Dr. Frank McGeorge saw was more than 30 years ago as a medical student.

Dr. John Dorsey, of Beaumont, who's been practicing pediatrics for more than 60 years, said he remembers how serious measles was in the past. He said he's seen thousands of cases during his career.

"Kids were very sick with it -- 104 fevers, 105 tracheal cough -- and the complications were really there," Dorsey said.

He's now 92 years old and still practicing pediatrics part-time. He said he remembers the worst years of measles.

"I've had several measles deaths, from measles pneumonia, measles encephalitis was a lot -- I mean, 1 to 2 percent -- and then measles tracheitis in infants," Dorsey said. "I had two that died within a week of each other."

Then, in the 1960s, a vaccine was made available.

"The vaccines were just miraculous," Dorsey said. "I mean, nobody -- there was no such thing as turning down the vaccine."

He said everyone wanted to be vaccinated.

"It was a true gold standard to have had a vaccine," Dorsey said.

He said that changed everything, and it's been decades since he's seen a case of measles.

"When it disappeared, it disappeared from a primary care physician's office," Dorsey said.

Dr. Matthew Sims, the director of infectious disease research at Beaumont, has been in practice for 19 years.

"I've never seen a case (of measles)," Sims said. "I've learned all about it. Of course, it's one of those diseases that everybody's taught about in medical school."

Now that cases are returning, Local 4 asked Dorsey what he thinks of testing for measles.

"I could recognize it in a second," Sims said. "You just look in the mouth. There's a rash in the mouth called Koplik spots. You'd recognize it. They all have it. You don't have to get tests and immunoglobulins. You don't have to go look for it. It's there."

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