Measles is not new, but in 2015 it has made an unexpected resurgence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of confirmed measles cases is now up to 121 since they began tracking on January 1. The outbreak, as it’s being called, is believed to have started with a group of unvaccinated people who visited Disneyland and has since spread to 17 states. Measles is an infectious disease and knowing the facts can keep you and your loved one healthy.
What is it?
Measles (Rubeola) is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus, according to the CDC.
How can you get it?
It spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. Every infected person can potentially spread it to an average of 18 people. The CDC also states the virus can survive on surfaces for up to two hours.
What are the symptoms?
Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat. Early signs are followed by a rash all over the body, white spots in the mouth and a high fever.
What are the effects?
About three out of 10 people who get measles will develop one or more complications including pneumonia, ear infections, or diarrhea, says the CDC.
The CDC states the best way to protect against measles is to get the measles-mumps-rubella shot (called the MMR shot). The vaccine is 95 percent effective and measles is considered a vaccine-preventable disease.
Doctors recommend that all children get the MMR shot. A measles shot is often required for school enrollment, but many parents choose not to vaccinate.
The MMR shot:
- Protects your child from measles, a potentially serious disease (and also protects against mumps and rubella)
- Prevents your child from getting an uncomfortable rash and high fever from measles
- Keeps your child from missing school or childcare (and keeps you from missing work to care for your sick child)
Doctors recommend that children get 2 doses of the MMR shot for best protection. Your child will need one dose at each of the following ages:
- 12 through 15 months
- 4 through 6 years
Infants 6 months to 11 months old should have 1 dose of MMR shot before traveling abroad.
Is measles only a concern for children?
No! Vaccination is also recommended for adults. Complications from measles are more common in adults (and young children). About one or two in every 1,000 people who get it will die, according to the CDC.