Have you thought about why you and your family should get the measles shot? It’s headline news these days with the United States record on the cusp for breaking Measles cases reported. The U.S. experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 644 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). As of April 2019, we are just 42 cases away from exceeding that record and making it the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.
What Is Measles?
Typically, measles occurs during childhood. The measles were formally called rubeola and is a serious and even fateful condition in children and although death rates are continually falling, measles still kills 100,000 people a year, and most of them are under the age of 5. We hear of children acquiring the measles but adults get them too if they have not been vaccinated.
What Are The Symptoms of Measles?
- Measles starts with a fever that can get very high
- A rash of tiny, red spots that start at the head and spread to the rest of the body
- A cough, runny nose, and red eyes
- Ear infection
How Is Measles Spread?
Measles can be spread as simply as infected individuals sneezing or coughing where moisture from the infected nose and throat come into contact with others whether being inhaled or through touching an infected surface.
History of the Measles Vaccination
It is generally assumed that those who were born before 1957 are immune to measles because the previous outbreaks of it helped people become immune to it prior to the measles vaccination coming out in 1963. Unsure if you were vaccinated? That’s ok, there is a blood test that can be given in order to see if you have certain antibodies that will tell a doctor if you are immune or not. Don’t want to put up with that hassle? That’s ok, it’s also perfectly fine to have the vaccine again, and it’s affordable.
According to the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, there was a glitch during the early years of the administration of the vaccine between the years of 1963 and 1967 and it may be possible that someone is not fully immune if they were accidentally given a “killed measles virus vaccine” rather than the “live virus vaccine”. Because of this, the center estimates anywhere between 600,000-900,000 individuals received the dead vaccine during that time period.
I’ve Come In Contact With Measles. Now What?
If you suspect you’ve come in contact with a person who is infected with measles, call your doctor immediately and tell her if you’re having any symptoms. Your doctor should be able to check your record to determine if you’re immune based on your vaccination history, age, or lab evidence. In addition, the office will need to take special precautions to protect the staff if you turn out to be infected.
How Do I Protect Myself From Measles?
Those who have a vitamin A deficiency and don’t get enough of that in their diet are more prone to getting the measles and also have more severe symptoms when they do. An easy way to get more vitamin A in your diet is to eat fish and meats, as well as dark leafy greens, carrots and sweet potatoes to name a few. Another way you can become likely to contract the measles is through traveling internationally without getting vaccinated first. So take these precautionary steps to keep yourself healthy, happy, and measles-free!
If you believe you or your child have been exposed to the measles contact one of our Pediatricians or Internal Medicine doctors today.