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Measles: What You Need to Know

What is it?

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can catch the disease just by being in a room where a person with measles has been-even after the person is gone! Most people in the United States are protected against the measles through vaccination; however, measles is still common in many parts of the world and travelers continue to bring the disease into the U.S. It can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.

Symptoms

Measles symptoms include  increasing fever, followed by coughing, runny nose, redness of the eyes, and finally a rash. The rash usually starts on the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Once the rash appears, fever can reach very high temperatures. Common complications include ear infections and diarrhea, but some people experience severe complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain), leading to hospitalization and even death. Children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age are more likely to suffer from complications caused by measles.

If you think you have been exposed to measles or are concerned you might have measles, we recommend you be seen by a healthcare provider. Please wear a mask upon entering the clinic and notify staff immediately.

Vaccination

There is no cure for measles! The best way to protect you and your family from the disease is by getting vaccinated with the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR). Children and teens will need to schedule an appointment with their health care provider to receive the vaccine.

  • Children and teens
    • Need 2 doses of MMR vaccine
    • Scheduled appointment required
    • In the U.S. the 1st dose is recommended at age 12 through 15 months, the 2nd dose at age 4 through 6 years.
    • Students at post-high school educational institutions without evidence of immunity also need 2 doses of MMR vaccine.
  • Adults
    • Should have at least 1 dose of MMR vaccine, depending on age and risk factors.
    • Our State Street clinic offers this vaccine for adults age 19 years & older with no appointment required.

There are also special considerations for people age 6 months or older who will be traveling internationally. For more information on measles and how to protect you and your family, please visit:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/features/measles/index.html

American Academy of Pediatrics: http://www2.aap.org/immunization/illnesses/mmr/measles.html