Measles is a highly contagious disease that can have serious health consequences, especially for young people and adults. Almost everyone who has not had the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) shot will get measles if they are exposed to the measles virus. Measles spreads through coughing or sneezing and the virus can survive in a room for up to two hours after an infected person leaves.
Here are some key messages about the measles vaccine:
- It is recommended that a child receive his or her first dose of the MMR vaccine between the ages of 12 and 15 months. The second dose should be received between the ages of 4 and 6 years old.
- If you are not sure whether you have received both doses of the MMR vaccine, you can check at https://wa.myir.net.
- If you don’t think you have received all recommended doses of the MMR vaccine, contact your healthcare provider to get the vaccine or to get a blood test.
- If you think you have been exposed to measles, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Stay home from work, school, or child care, and don’t go to any public place such as church or the grocery store until you have received further recommendations from your healthcare provider.
Measles is a childhood infection that is caused by a virus. Also called rubella, measles can be serious and even fatal for young children. As a result of high vaccination rates, measles hasn’t been widespread in the United States for more than a decade, but the average number of cases has increased in recent years.
The first symptoms of measles are like a bad cold: a high fever, runny nose, and cough, followed by a rash that usually lasts five to six days. It can also cause the patient to be very tired and to have red, watery eyes that are sensitive to light. Serious cases can cause ear infections, pneumonia, hearing loss, seizures, brain damage, or even death. There is no treatment for measles.
People with measles can spread the disease before they are aware that they’re sick. It can be spread from four days before the rash appears to four days after. Measles spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or shares food or drinks. If a person is not protected by vaccination or is not immune, he or she may get measles if they are in the same place as someone who has the virus even if that person doesn’t cough or sneeze directly on them. That’s because the measles virus can remain in the air of a room for up to two hours.
For more information, please visit www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Measles.