Why Measles Is Back In The News And How To Protect Yourself And Your Children

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ACCORDING TO THE CDC, NEARLY 400 INDIVIDUAL CASES OF MEASLES HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED IN 15 STATES SO FAR THIS YEAR. THIS IS THE SECOND GREATEST NUMBER OF CASES REPORTED IN THE U.S. SINCE MEASLES WAS DECLARED ELIMINATED IN 2000.

WHAT EXACTLY IS MEASLES?

Measles is caused by a virus.

WHY IS IT MAKING A COMEBACK AFTER BEING DECLARED ELIMINATED?

We have been seeing more outbreaks over the years. Most people who are getting measles are unvaccinated.

Measles is still occurring in many parts of the world. If a traveler has measles and comes to the US with the disease, it can then infect US communities where there are may be pockets of unvaccinated people.

HOW DO MEASLES SPREAD?

It is spread by coughing and sneezing and it is VERY contagious!

It is so contagious that the virus can remain for up to 2 hours in the air where someone infected coughed or sneezed- this can then make it easier for others to get infected. The CDC also states that “Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.”

HOW IS MEASLES DIAGNOSED?

Your doctor will evaluate the symptoms you have, any possible exposures and possibly take blood tests or throat swabs (among other possible tests).

WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT CHILD AND FAMILY FROM GETTING THE MEASLES?

Getting vaccinated against the measles with the MMR vaccine is the best thing you can do to protect your child and family. Measles can be prevented with MMR vaccine and the vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.

Its also important to make sure all teens and adults in your household have immunity to measles, mumps and rubella.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF MEASLES?

Fever, cough, irritated eyes and runny nose followed by a rash that spreads over the body about 3-5 days after symptoms begin

WHEN DO YOU NEED TO GET VACCINATED FOR THE MEASLES?

CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 – 15 months old, and the second dose at 4 – 6 years of age.

This vaccine (MMR) is very safe and effective. According to the CDC, “two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective.”

WHAT ARE POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS FROM MEASLES?

Some milder consequences can include ear infections or diarrhea. But more serious consequences include pneumonia or swelling of the brain. Out of every 1,000 children who gets the measles, 1 or 2 will die from it.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE IF SOMEONE IS EXPOSED TO MEASLES?

The first thing you should do is call your doctor (not necessarily go to the office in case you have acquired measles and are able to pass it to others), but call your doctor to find out next steps.

IS THERE A TREATMENT FOR MEASLES? 

There is no specific treatment for measles, but we can help manage the symptoms by making sure the person with measles gets plenty of rest, drinks lots of fluids, controls pain and fever.

Dr. Caudle answers your ‘Text Tom’ questions on the next page.

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