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What’s The Deal With Measles?

Measles has made national news in the U.S. recently because there were 3 measles outbreaks in 2018, and a 2019 outbreak in Washington State.  

What Exactly is Measles?

So what exactly is measles, and why does it matter?

Measles is a highly-contagious infection caused by the rubeola virus. It’s transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and other people inhale the infected droplets. 

People infected with measles are contagious for four days before the classic measles rash appears, and for 4-5 days after the rash disappears.  

In 1963, pediatricians in the U.S. began vaccinating children against measles, and in 2001, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) declared that measles had been eradicated from the U.S. because the vaccine was effective and widely-used. 

Reasons for Recent Outbreaks

However, since 2010 there has been a rise in measles outbreaks in the U.S., which has happened for two reasons. First, travelers visit countries that haven’t eradicated measles and return home carrying the virus. And second, there’s an increasing percentage of parents who don’t vaccinate their children.

The symptoms of measles include fever, whole-body rash, runny nose, watery eyes, and cough.  

While most patients with healthy immune systems recover from measles without any negative long-term effects, measles can cause serious and even fatal complications in others. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that 2.6 million people around the world die from measles every year.

The serious complications of measles include pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhea, and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Encephalitis is often not reversible, leading to permanent brain damage and, in some cases, death.

Measles is also dangerous in pregnant women because it can cause premature labor or a low-birthweight baby.

The good news about measles is that the vaccine is highly effective in protecting patients against this infection!

It’s recommended that children receive their first Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) vaccine between ages 12-15 months, and their second vaccine between ages 4-6 years. 

However, even if you miss that window, you can be immunized against measles at any time in the future. Since it’s important for unvaccinated patients to develop immunity to measles as soon as possible, the second MMR vaccine can be given 4 weeks after the first vaccine in any patient 12 months or older.  

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At GoHealth Urgent Care, we provide medical care for children six months and older! If your little one is injured or ill, use the widget below to save your spot online. 

Sources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/37135.php

https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html

https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/complications.html

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