Measles has been in the news a lot lately. As of April 29, 2019, six residents in Georgia (none in Coastal Health District) have been reported as having measles. Measles have also been reported in nine other states. Measles is highly contagious and can be very dangerous, especially for young children.
The best way to prevent measles is for all children to be fully vaccinated on time. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and effective and prevents measles and two other viral diseases – mumps and rubella. More than 95% of the people who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to all three viruses. A second dose boosts immunity, typically enhancing protection to 98%.
Measles is spread by air-borne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can live in the air and on surfaces for 2-3 hours. Measles typically begins with a fever, followed by cough, runny nose, and/or red, watery eyes. After two to three days, the fever peaks and a rash appears at the hairline and spreads progressively downward covering the face, neck, trunk and extremities. Symptoms from measles usually appear within 10 – 14 days after exposure. Measles patients are considered to be contagious anywhere from 4 days before to 4 days after the rash appears.
Measles is endemic in many parts of the world and transmission in the U.S. is most often associated with unvaccinated travelers (Americans or foreign visitors) who get measles while they are in other countries.
Who is at increased risk of becoming infected with measles?
- Infants who are too young to have been vaccinated (less than 1 year of age)
- Persons who have never been vaccinated
- Pregnant women
- Immunocompromised persons (these include persons undergoing cancer chemotherapy or other immune-suppressive treatments, transplant recipients or those with diseases that affect the immune system such as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE).
- Anyone who becomes sick or thinks they may have been exposed to measles should contact your health care provider immediately and let him or her know that you may have been exposed to measles.
Anyone who becomes sick or thinks they may have been exposed to measles should contact their health care provider immediately. DO NOT go to the doctor’s office, the hospital, or a public health clinic without FIRST calling to let them know about your possible contact with measles. Health care providers who suspect measles in a patient should notify public health immediately. For more information about measles, log on to https://www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html