What to Know About Measles and Its Complications

What to Know About Measles and Its Complications

The CDC released a statement on April 29, 2019 reporting 704 cases of measles nationwide—the highest number of measles cases in the U.S. since measles were eliminated in 2000. Measles have been confirmed in 22 states, including cases in Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County and Tarrant County. According to the CDC, the best way to protect your family from the measles, which can lead to severe complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis and even death, is to get a measles vaccination.

Two doses of the measles vaccine are recommended by the CDC; one at 12 to 15 months and another when children are between 4 and 6 years old. Read Childhood Immunizations: What Parents Need to Know for more information about childhood vaccinations.

Children and adults who have not been vaccinated on schedule can “catch up”; ask your doctor or find a North Texas CareNow Urgent Care clinic near you. They offer a variety of immunizations, including the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps & rubella).

How to prevent measles.

Medical City Weatherford’s Director of Infection Control, Maria Guerrero, spoke with the Weatherford Democrat after the 14th case of measles was confirmed in Texas in March.

“Measles is a highly contagious virus that is transmitted primarily from person to person by respiratory droplets and airborne,” Guerrero said. “It can be spread by coughing, sneezing or touching contaminated surfaces.”

The CDC warns that measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people near that person who are not immune will also become infected. It’s a hardy virus, too, and can live up to two hours in an airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed.

That’s what led to a quarantine order affecting more than 1,000 college students and staff members at two Los Angeles universities, UCLA and Cal State Los Angeles, after students at both campuses were diagnosed with the contagious disease.

In addition to getting vaccinated, washing your hands thoroughly and often can help prevent the spread of measles.

Signs and symptoms of measles.

Measles typically appear in three distinct stages.

Stage 1: seven to 21 days after exposure:

  • High fever (may spike to 104°F)
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis, pink eye)

Stage 2: two or three days later:

  • Tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth

Stage 3: three to five days after symptoms begin:

  • Measles rash breaks out, typically beginning as flat red spots on the side of the face at the hairline and spreading downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet. Small, raised bumps may also form on top of the flat red spots. The rash may spread so that the spots become joined together. This is the stage when fever may spike.

Measles may be contagious from four days before through four days after a rash appears.

Stage 3 of measles may include a rash.

What to do if you think you have measles.

If you suspect you or a family member has measles, call your doctor immediately and describe the symptoms. Your doctor may make special arrangements to evaluate you, if needed, without putting other patients and medical office staff at risk.

“There is no treatment for measles, you can only treat the symptoms,” Guerrero said. “Recommendation is to get the vaccination and not to travel internationally to areas where measles is still common or where there are current outbreaks.”

If someone in your family gets a bad case of the measles, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you or visit Medical City Virtual Care for non-emergency medical treatment from your computer or smartphone.

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