Measles Information

Measles Information

Measles has been in the news and health care providers are getting questions about immunizations and the disease. Hope this helps.

Measles, also known as Rubeola, is a highly contagious infection caused by the Morbilli virus. Initial symptoms typically include high fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Then a red, flat or slightly raised rash usually starts on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body. This typically begins three to five days after the start of symptoms. Symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person and last 7–10 day.  Complications occur in about 30 percent of infected people and may include: diarrhea, blindness, inflammation of the brain, and pneumonia among others.

Measles is an airborne disease, which spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of those infected. It may also be spread through contact with saliva or nasal secretions. It has a very high infectious rate. People are infectious to others from four days before to four days after the start of the rash. People usually only get the disease at most once.

The measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease. Vaccination has resulted in a 75% decrease in deaths from measles between 2000 and 2013.

No specific treatment of the disease is available. Supportive care, however, may improve outcomes.  This may include giving oral rehydration solution (slightly sweet and salty fluids), healthy food, and medications to help with the fever.

Measles affects about 20 million people a year worldwide, primarily in the developing areas of Africa and Asia. It resulted in about 96,000 deaths in 2013, down from 545,000 deaths in 1990. In 1980, the disease is estimated to have caused 2.6 million deaths per year. In the United States, between 3 and 4 million cases occurred every year before immunization was available. Most of those who are infected and who die are less than five years old. It is not believed to affect animals.

Who should receive immunization? If you were born before 1957, measles was so prevalent then you are considered immune even if you did not get the disease.

Adults born after 1957 with no evidence of immunity should get 1 dose of the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, & Rubella or German measles). Immunity is defined as having a documented receipt of 1 dose of virus-containing vaccine or laboratory evidence of immunity. High risk people need 2 doses of the vaccine, such as healthcare workers, international travelers, students in post-high school educational institutions or college, people exposed to measles in an outbreak setting and those vaccinated in 1963 with a killed virus.

Children should be vaccinated at age 1 and receive a 2nd  dose between  4 and 6 years of age.

The most common side effect from the vaccine is burning or stinging at the sight of injection and a low grade fever. Immunizations are available at the Teton County  Health Department and/or your health care provider. Call me  if you have questions.

Teresa D Smith-Keil, FNP-C

Benefis Teton Medical Center


Info taken from CDC website*

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