March 20, 2024

measles outbreak

Prevention is key to controlling the spread of measles.

If you have kids of your own, work in a healthcare setting or travel internationally often, it’s likely you’ve heard of the recent measles outbreak. The recent resurgence of measles has sparked concerns for health officials and the public. As we navigate the recent measles outbreak, it’s important for us to understand the factors contributing to its spread and implement effective prevention strategies.

What is Measles?

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that poses significant risk for infants, individuals that are unvaccinated and those who are immunocompromised. It spreads by breathing in air droplets sprayed into the air when a person with measles coughs or sneezes.

Measles can also be transmitted by coming into contact with surfaces contaminated with the measles virus. The virus can survive in the air or on surfaces for several hours, further increasing the chance of transmission.

If one person has measles, 9 out of 10 people around that person may also become infected if not vaccinated or immune. There is not an antiviral medication available to treat measles.  Treatment is focused on relieving symptoms.

Early symptoms include cough, runny nose, high fever, and red, watery eyes. Two to three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots, known as Koplik spots, may appear inside the mouth. Additionally, a red or reddish-brown skin rash begins developing on the forehead or face, near the hairline and can spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet.

Prevention of Measles

Prevention is key to controlling the spread of measles. The best protection for your health and the health of others in the community, is the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.  The MMR vaccine provides long-lasting protection against all 3 diseases and is given in 2 doses:

Children

  • 1st dose between ages 12 – 15 months
  • 2nd dose between ages 4-6 years old

If traveling, children over 12 months can get the 2nd dose 28 days after the 1st dose. Consult with your Pediatrician to see if this is appropriate for your child.

Adults

If you do not have written documentation of having received the MMR vaccine, talk to your primary care provider about getting vaccinated. The MMR vaccine is safe, and there is no harm in getting another dose even if you may already be immune to measles, mumps or rubella.

Immunocompromised or Pregnant

The MMR vaccine is not recommended in people who are immunocompromised or pregnant. Talk to your doctor to discuss appropriate measures to reduce infection and prevent complications. If you are planning to become pregnant, consider at least one dose one month prior to conception.

Practice Good Hygiene Habits

In addition to vaccination, practicing good hygiene habits can aid in the effort to reduce the spread of measles. This includes:

  • Frequent handwashing with soap and water
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with an elbow or tissue
  • Avoiding close contact with individuals who are sick
  • Maintaining a clean and sanitized environment in shared or public spaces

Am I Immune?

The CDC considers you protected/immune from measles if you were born prior to 1957 or have documentation of either of the following:

  • Receiving the MMR vaccine
  • Immunity with the IgG ELISA blood test

If you are unsure whether you or a family member has received the MMR vaccine, call your Primary Care Provider or child’s Pediatrician to locate vaccination records. You can also verify immunity using the following links:

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Additional Resources

Read more about Measles using the following resources:

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