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Stephanie Peeni baby daughter Manaia left fighting for her life after catching measles

A distraught mother has spoken of the traumatic moment her unvaccinated seven-month old baby girl was left fighting for her life after catching measles.

Stephanie Peeni said her daughter Manaia fell ill after her three-year-old twin siblings – sister Valentina and brother Carter – contracted the highly contagious disease earlier this month.

Little Manaia was rushed to hospital on August 20 after she became lethargic, her lips were blue and she developed a sky-high fever of more than 40°C.

The infant was yet to have her measles jab, as the first dose of the MMR isn’t given until babies turn 12 months old.

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, the mother-of-four, who is originally from Queensland but now lives in New Zealand, shared gut-wrenching pictures of her eight-day ordeal – as she begged other parents to be vigilant about measles.

Little Manaia, who’s seven months old, was left fighting for her life after catching measles

Mother Stephanie Peeni said her daughter Manaia was rushed to hospital after she became lethargic, her lips were blue and she developed a sky-high fever of more than 40°C

Mother Stephanie Peeni said her daughter Manaia was rushed to hospital after she became lethargic, her lips were blue and she developed a sky-high fever of more than 40°C

Can infants under 12 months be vaccinated for measles?

Younger infants are not routinely given the jab due to the antibodies to measles, mumps and rubella being passed from the mother to her baby at birth. 

But once the baby reaches 12 months of age, the measles antibodies usually disappear so they require measles vaccines for protection. 

Measles vaccine may be provided to infants between six and 12 months of age if they have recently been exposed to someone with measles while they were infectious.

If an infant receives an MMR vaccine before 12 months of age, they still need to have another two doses of MMR. They should receive the next dose of MMR vaccine at 12 months of age or four weeks after the first dose, whichever is later. The second MMR dose is given at 18 months of age. 

The mother – who documents her family life on Instagram under thepeenifolk – said she was distraught when her baby girl contracted measles shortly after her toddler twins were recovering from the same disease.

‘I was absolutely heartbroken watching her tiny little body fight so hard,’ Mrs Peeni told Daily Mail Australia.

Little Manaia was admitted to hospital after suffering cold-like symptoms – as red rashes broke out all over her face and body.

‘My heart stopped when she woke from her nap and her lips were blue. I called an ambulance straight away, she was so lethargic,’ the mother said.

‘Her symptoms were mostly a fever, cough and runny nose but lasted twice as long as her twins’ symptoms. She went into hospital with a respiratory infection as a side effect of the measles whereas Valentina’s developed after.’

She said her daughter’s heart rate was rapidly sitting at 190 and her lips were blue from the lack of oxygen around her body due to a respiratory infection caused by measles.

‘It left me feeling numb and lost for words… I was still healing from my ordeal with the twins when Manaia fell ill and it’s kind of just been a whirlwind since then. I am still trying to wrap my head around it,’ Mrs Peeni said.

Unable to swallow, her heartbroken mother fed her baby girl breast milk with a syringe ‘every hour of the day and night’.

‘She refused to breastfeed all week, so I was expressing and force feeding her my milk via a syringe… I tried everything I could to avoid a gastric nasal tube,’ she said.

‘Her fevers continued on until Sunday, making it eight days of fevers in total.’

The distraught mother was to share gut-wrenching pictures of her ordeal after her daughter Manaia contracted measles

The baby girl developed painful rashes after she was struck down with the highly contagious disease

The distraught mother was to share gut-wrenching pictures of her ordeal after her daughter Manaia contracted measles – as she begged other parents to vaccinate their children

Little Manaia was admitted to hospital on August 20 after suffering cold-like symptoms - as red rashes broke out all over her face and body

Little Manaia was admitted to hospital on August 20 after suffering cold-like symptoms – as red rashes broke out all over her face and body

Against all odds, the baby girl pulled through after suffering a fever for eight days in total

Against all odds, the baby girl pulled through after suffering a fever for eight days in total

How effective is the measles vaccine? 

A single dose of MMR vaccine is approximately 95 per cent effective against measles, 78 per cent effective against mumps, and 99 per cent effective against rubella. After a second MMR dose, protection increases to 99 per cent against measles and 88 per cent against mumps.

A second dose of MMR vaccine is recommended so that anyone who did not respond to the first vaccine is given a chance to develop protective immunity against the three viruses.

And against all odds, the baby girl pulled through. 

‘Manaia is on the road to recovery,’ the mother said. 

‘She’s slowly regaining her appetite, she’ll have a couple of mouthfuls of food a day as opposed to three full meals but more importantly she’s breastfeeding again.

‘She tires easily but is able to sit and play with her siblings for a good 10 minutes at a time. She’s exhausted but she’s tough.

‘Her little body really copped it inside and out but she is just as resilient as her big brother and sister this pickle of mine.’ 

By sharing her story, the mother wanted to warn parents about measles so they can identify the common symptoms early and ensure their own children are vaccinated.

‘Just know the symptoms and act swiftly because a child with measles can deteriorate very quickly,’ she said. 

‘Measles is not just a rash and a fever, it attacks your whole body, inside and out and can absolutely be life-threatening. 

‘Measles is no joke. My babies are perfectly healthy and look at what it did to them. Three of my four children contracted measles – two were vaccinated and one was not. It can kill so don’t be ignorant, be educated, be vigilant.

‘Spreading awareness has helped me to heal from such a traumatic experience. It can happen to anybody. The young, the old, the weak, the strong. My children have perfect health and measles left them fighting for days.’ 

The infant was yet to have her measles jab, as the first dose of the MMR isn't given until babies turn 12 months old

The infant was yet to have her measles jab, as the first dose of the MMR isn’t given until babies turn 12 months old

Little Manaia is now recovering and she's slowly regaining her appetite after she fell ill

Little Manaia is now recovering and she’s slowly regaining her appetite after she fell ill

Manaia’s measles battle comes just weeks after her twin sister Valentina and brother Carter were struck down with the disease despite both of them being vaccinated.

By day five, the highly contagious disease had ravaged their tiny bodies after itchy, red rashes broke out all over their faces, necks, torsos, arms and legs.

The condition became so severe for little Valentina that her eyes were swollen shut as her twin brother vomited blood. 

‘My heart sank. I know that vaccinations aren’t 100 per cent preventive but I still never thought that it would happen to my babies, I was absolutely terrified,’ Mrs Peeni told Daily Mail Australia last week.

‘I, like so many others, were so naive in thinking measles was just glorified chickenpox. Boy, I was wrong. Measles absolutely has the potential to be life-threatening. The twins had an unbelievably horrific measles experience.’

But against all odds, little Carter and Valentina miraculously fought against the disease – as they are now at home recovering.

Australian mother Stephanie Peeni has shared gut-wrenching pictures of her twins (daughter Valentina pictured) after they contracted measles earlier this month

The distraught mother said her toddler twins started suffering cold-like symptoms such as a fever, a cough and a runny nose all within one day. By day five, their entire bodies were covered in itchy, red rashes (son Carter pictured)

Last week, Mrs Peeni shared confronting pictures of her twins (daughter Valentina pictured left and son Carter right) after they contracted measles earlier this month

Mother Stephanie Peeni (pictured with her twins) said little Valentina's condition became so severe her eyes were swollen shut as her twin brother vomited blood

Mother Stephanie Peeni (pictured with her twins) said little Valentina’s condition became so severe her eyes were swollen shut as her twin brother vomited blood

What is measles?

Measles is caused by the measles virus, spread by contact with infected people’s body fluids.

The disease is usually spread when a person breathes in the measles virus that has been coughed or sneezed into the air by an infectious person. 

Measles is one of the most easily spread of all human infections. Just being in the same room as someone with measles can result in infection. 

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • feeling unwell
  • tiredness
  • runny nose
  • dry cough
  • sore, red eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • red rash

Source: NSW Health

Dr Richard Kidd, who is the chair of the Australian Medical Association Council of General Practice, said newborn babies are not scheduled for measles vaccines because they are protected from the maternal antibodies.

‘During pregnancy, the mother’s antibodies are transferred through the placenta to the baby so they are protected against measles,’ Dr Kidd told Daily Mail Australia.

Measles vaccines are given to babies at 12 months old because the antibodies transferred from the mother to their infant can provide protection from the disease during the first year of life.

But once the baby reaches 12 months of age, the measles antibodies usually disappear so they require measles vaccines for protection.

The Brisbane-based GP said the only protection parents have for their unvaccinated babies or children is keeping them in isolation until they get their measles jab.

The mother-of-four wanted to share her terrifying ordeal to warn parents about measles

The mother-of-four wanted to share her terrifying ordeal to warn parents about measles

Mrs Peeni with her family - holding baby girl Manaia, alongside twins Carter and Valentina, eldest daughter Bun and husband Neiks

Mrs Peeni with her family – holding baby girl Manaia, alongside twins Carter and Valentina, eldest daughter Bun and husband Neiks

Dr Kidd said anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated can catch the highly infectious disease.

‘Measles are very contagious. You can catch it through the air. When someone who has measles talk or breathe, fine little droplets of measles virus can spread through the air,’ he said.

‘When you breathe the droplets in, you can catch measles yourself so it doesn’t need to be in direct contact or a cough, it can be spread through the air.’

Dr Kidd said vaccination is the most effective preventative measure against measles. 

‘I’m a strong advocate for vaccination because prevention is better than cure. Measles can kill as many as one in 10 people, and leave many others severely disabled for the rest of their lives,’ Dr Kidd said.

‘Vaccines are safe and highly effective for the vast majority of the population. Vaccination is the cheapest, effective way of preventing the worst diseases you can imagine. The chances for a vaccinated person to get measles are very, very small.

‘For anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated, please get vaccinated to protect yourself. Getting measles at any stage is terrible and it’s a lethal disease.’

Stephanie Peeni has compiled a guide to help parents recognise the symptoms of measles, which can be found on her Instagram.



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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