Measles is spreading: What you need to know

 

More and more families are opting to not get vaccinated due to misguided fears and beliefs that vaccines cause autism, which is untrue. This is allowing a highly contagious virus to infect unsuspecting individuals. Vaccination doesn't just help you avoid the measles; it helps stop the spread of disease thanks to herd immunity.  This means that if everyone who can get vaccinated does, it also protects infants and those with a poor immune system.

What is measles? It is a virus that can live in the air for up to 2 hours.  Once contracted, it multiples in our lungs and causes runny nose, inflamed eyes, cough, and a fever of 101 or higher.  Patients can also develop white spots in their mouth. A few days later, a rash starting at the hairline and neck spreads downwards to the rest of the body. The rash begins as discrete spots that soon merge.  

What happens after? Approximately 30% of measles patients will have complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhea, which can result in death.  For every 1,000 cases of measles, there is one case of life-threatening brain infection and two to three deaths.

When should my child get the vaccine? The MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine is routinely recommended for all children at 12 months and a second dose before starting school. In the midst of this current outbreak, it may be beneficial to receive the second dose sooner. Talk to your pediatrician about this. Also, for infants 6-11 months travelling outside the country, it is a good idea to get an extra MMR vaccine before travel.

I can’t remember if I received the MMR vaccine. Once a person has had the measles disease, they are immune for life and protected against measles. People born before 1957 can also be considered immune, because most have been exposed to the disease.  Surveys suggest 95-98% immunity in those born before 1957. 

Do I need to get revaccinated?  No. If you are born in 1957 or later, you need to have one documented dose of MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine or have had the disease.

There have been 764 (as of May 3, 2019) measles cases in the U.S. this year alone. If you are showing symptoms of measles, it is extremely important to call the doctor’s office or hospital ahead of time, so appropriate protective measures can be taken.

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