Many of us thought measles had been eradicated. I thought the disease was a menacing health threat confined to remote areas of the globe. After all, the United States declared that measles was eliminated in 2000. However, measles can be imported into our nation by visitors or when Americans travel abroad. “Since 2000, when measles was declared eliminated from the U.S., the annual number of people reported to have measles ranged from a low of 37 people in 2004 to a high of 644 people in 2014.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Recent outbreaks of measles have been well publicized. It is important that folks are mindful of the disease. Admittedly, I had to reeducate myself on the disease. Below please find answers to frequently asked questions from the public:
What is measles?
Measles is a childhood infection caused by a virus.
The name “measles” comes from the Middle English “maselen” meaning “many little spots” characteristic of the rash.
How is measles spread?
According to the CDC, “Measles is highly contagious. Infectedindividuals are usually contagious for four days before and four days after the rash begins. Measles is spread by infectious airborne droplets from sneezing or coughing, touching contaminated objects and direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected persons. The measles virus is present in the mucus from the nose and throat of infected people. When they sneeze or cough, mucus droplets spray into the air and those droplets remain contagious on infected surfaces for up to two hours.”
What are the signs and symptoms of measles?
Measles produces cold-like symptoms. For example, dry cough, fever, inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis), runny nose and a sore throat.
What populations are at risk?
Anyone who never had measles, and has never been vaccinated (including babies who are less than a year old) is susceptible. Also, people who were vaccinated before 1968 are at risk. These vaccines may not give lasting protection.
For more information about measles please contact:
Please consult with your health care professional if you have concerns or questions regarding measles.