According to the CDC, from January 1 to February 6, there have been 121 people from 17 states who are reported to have measles. Many of these resulted from an outbreak linked to an amusement park in California.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease – approximately 90 percent of susceptible persons with close contact to a measles patient will develop measles. Measles spreads by coughing and sneezing. The virus can live up to 2 hours on a surface or in an area where an infected person coughed or sneezed. The first symptoms are often fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. Those symptoms are followed by a rash that spreads all over the body. Severe complications, such as pneumonia and swelling of the brain, can cause death in some cases. For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.
Typically, it takes about 1-3 weeks after you have been around someone who has measles for symptoms to begin showing. Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before to four days after the rash appears. If you think you have measles, contact your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms. Calling first will help avoid spreading measles should you be infected. Your care provider will perform an exam and may take a blood test or viral culture if he or she is concerned.
The majority of those who get measles are unvaccinated. If you were immunized or you previously had the measles, you should be protected. The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is recommended for all children and is a two-shot series: the first given between 12 and 15 months and the second due at 4 to 6 years. College students and adults without evidence of immunity may need one or two doses of the MMR shot. If you are not sure if you are immune, you should contact your healthcare provider to discuss whether you should receive the vaccine now. The MMR vaccine is safe and there has been no evidence to support its direct link to autism. Getting MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles, mumps or rubella.
If you have concerns about the vaccine, please discuss with your physician. For more information on measles, please visit www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html.