As we’re sure you’ve heard, the measles virus is back, and can be extremely dangerous. The virus can live for up to two hours in a space where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected. Although the virus is easily prevented through vaccination with two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine (link opens in new tab) , as of late, “immunization hesitancy” has interfered with maintaining a high coverage rate. The United States is presently seeing the highest number of measles cases since the disease was considered eliminated in this country in the year 2000. An unsupported link between autism and the MMR vaccination persists, and many outbreaks and exposures are now occurring in parts of the country due to lower vaccination rates, as well as people carrying the virus back from other countries such as the Ukraine, the Philippines and Israel.
AFC Urgent Care Vernon answers your questions on the top 7 things you need to know about the current measles outbreak:
1: How effective is the Measles Vaccine?
The measles vaccine is very effective. According to the CDC, one dose of measles vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus. Two doses are about 97% effective. Don’t risk it, get vaccinated today.
2: What is the Measles Virus?
Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the mucus of an infected person. It can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. According to our own Dr. Iftikhar Ali, Medical Director for AFC Urgent Care:
“Measles is a highly contagious disease. The only way to protect yourself is being vaccinated. If you are not sure about your vaccination status, it can be tested with a simple blood test for MMR ( Measles/Mumps/Rubella). If you are not immune, you should get a booster dose of MMR. If someone comes in contact with a patient who is diagnosed with measles and is not sure about his/her MMR vaccination status, he/she should go to a health care facility within 72 hours to receive the MMR booster vaccine to prevent the disease. If it is over 72 hours, you should go to the Emergency Department of the nearest hospital within 6 days to receive immunoglobulin”
- Early symptoms include high fever, a cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.
- Two or three days later small while spots may appear inside the mouth. Within three to five days the red measles rash breaks out on the face and spreads down the body to the feet.
- The patient’s fever may go to 104 degrees or higher. In a few days the fever goes down and the rash fades.
If you have been exposed to measles, call your doctor immediately and let them know. Your doctor can determine if you are immune to measles based on your vaccination record, age, or laboratory evidence, and make special arrangements to evaluate you, if needed, without putting other patients and medical office staff at risk
4: What is the progression of measles?
- Infection and incubation. For the first 10 to 14 days after you’re infected, the measles virus incubates. This is one of the main reasons measles is so contagious- people can be walking around with the measles virus without any knowledge of it. In the meantime they are infecting those around them who have not been immunized, which can include babies under the age of 12 months who have not yet gotten their Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine (MMR).
- Nonspecific signs and symptoms. Measles typically begins with a mild to moderate fever, often accompanied by a persistent cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes and sore throat. This relatively mild illness may last two or three days.
- Acute illness and rash. The rash consists of small red spots, some of which are slightly raised. Spots and bumps in tight clusters give the skin a splotchy red appearance. The face breaks out first. Over the next few days, the rash spreads down the arms and trunk, then over the thighs, lower legs and feet.
- Communicable period. A person with measles can spread the virus to others for about eight days, starting four days before the rash appears and ending when the rash has been present for four days.
5: What are the causes of measles?
Measles is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus that replicates in the nose and throat of an infected child or adult. Then, when someone with measles coughs, sneezes or talks, infected droplets spray into the air, where other people can inhale them.
The infected droplets may also land on a surface, where they remain active and contagious for several hours. You can contract the virus by putting your fingers in your mouth or nose or rubbing your eyes after touching the infected surface.
About 90 percent of non-immune people who are exposed to someone with the virus will be infected.
6: Is the measles virus treatable?
There’s no specific treatment for an established measles infection.
7: Is the measles virus preventable?
Yes it is!
- Vaccinate. Be sure that anyone who’s at risk of getting the measles who hasn’t been fully vaccinated receives the measles vaccine (link opens in new tab) as soon as possible. This includes anyone under 65 years old who hasn’t been vaccinated, as well as infants older than 6 months.
- The first dose for infants is usually given between 12-15 months, with the second dose typically given between ages four and six years.
- Isolation. Because measles is highly contagious from about four days before to four days after the rash breaks out, people with measles shouldn’t return to activities in which they interact with other people during this period. It may also be necessary to keep non-immunized people — siblings, for example — away from the infected person.
Remember: When you get the measles vaccine, you are not only protecting yourself against illness, but you are protecting everyone around you.
At AFC Urgent Care Vernon (link opens in a new tab) we are armed with all the vaccines to keep you safe and healthy. We are here for you, going above and beyond urgent care. We’re ready to serve you 7 days a week, from 8am-8pm weekdays, 8am-5pm weekends.
AFC Urgent Care Vernon: 179 Talcotville Road Vernon, CT 06066 or Contact Us