Measles is a very contagious viral illness. 90% of unvaccinated people will contract the disease if not previously vaccinated. It is considered the most deadly of all childhood rash/fever illnesses.
How Measles Is Transmitted
Measles is transmitted by droplets from infected persons. The virus can live on infected surfaces and in the air for up to two hours. Infected people can spread the virus up to 4 days before they know they are infected (rash appears). They best protection against the virus is immunization and frequent hand washing and avoidance of potentially infected people. Surfaces may be cleansed with disinfectant solutions of bleach, 60% alcohol, or peroxide.
Symptoms Of Measles
The symptoms of measles generally begin about 7-14 days after a person is infected, and include: blotchy rash, fever, cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis), feeling run down, achy (malaise), tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik’s spots). A typical case begins with mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and sore throat. Two or three days after symptoms begin, Koplik’s spots may appear inside the mouth. Three to five days after the start of symptoms, a red or reddish-brown rash appears. The rash usually begins on a person’s face at the hairline and spreads downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.
Complications Of Measles
Complications of Measles infection include ear infections, pneumonia, swelling of the brain and miscarriage or low birth weight baby. Those under 5 and over 20 years old are most at risk for serious complications.
Vaccine rules for outbreak areas:
Children 12 months and older, with second dose 4 weeks later.
Infants 6 months and older if in area of measles outbreak.
Adults born 1957 and earlier are considered immune and need booster only if in high risk area. Adults born after 1957 without written proof of immunization or a blood test (titer) showing immunity should receive a booster.
Vaccination is safe for pregnant and nursing women and their children. Once vaccinated with MMR, women should not get pregnant for a minimum of 4 weeks. There is no harm in receiving “an extra” dose of MMR.
Once vaccinated, measles immunity lasts at least 20 years. A blood test can confirm immunity for those in areas of outbreak.
If you have any concerns about Measles, please contact you IMA Primary Care Office.