The CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates that as of the year 2000, measles in the US had largely been eradicated. Recent news reports, however, indicate the incidence of the disease is up sharply across the United States. While the debate continues as to the causes of this increase, one thing is sure; individuals who have not been vaccinated are much more likely to contract the disease than those who have had the vaccination. Even when fully protected, around 3% of vaccinated individuals still catch the disease.
According to the CDC, before the measles vaccination program, begun in 1963, an estimated 3 to 4 million people in the US contracted measles annually. This resulted in 400-500 deaths yearly, 50,000 cases hospitalized, and 1000 people contracting encephalitis (swelling in the brain) directly attributable to their measles.
Nevertheless, an uptick in measles cases has been reported, and it is therefore imperative that parents be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of a developing measles infection. Most deaths from measles occur in children under the age of five. The disease is highly contagious and is spread through the air or by touching a surface covered with the live virus then spreading it to the mouth or nose. Symptoms to be on the lookout for include the following:
- Sore Throat
- Dry Cough
- Inflamed Eyes
- Runny Nose
- The Appearance of Koplik’s Spots – Tiny White Spots inside the Mouth or Cheek
- Skin Rash Appearing as Reddish Blotches.
After being infected but before appearing, measles requires an incubation period of about 10 to 14 days. During this initial period, there are no signs or symptoms. Following the incubation period, the patient develops a mild to moderate fever, runny nose, cough, and sore throat. These symptoms last for 2 to 3 days after which a rash develops. The rash, (red blotchy appearance), generally begins on the face and spreads downward to the legs and feet. During this 3 to 4 day period, the patient can expect fever, sometimes as high as 104 to105 degrees.
As the disease finishes its course, the rash begins to disappear, first from the face then moving down to the legs and feet. For the period beginning four days before the rash starts and ending four days after the rash has been present, the patient can transmit the disease to others. Keeping the patient isolated during this time can help reduce the spread of the disease.
To protect your family and to ensure they can participate in school and sports activities, it is vital for everyone to receive the measles vaccine. The medical staff at Emergency Hospital Systems is fully equipped to provide measles vaccinations as well as any vaccination records or documents required by schools or sports organizations.
The medical professionals at EHS can discuss any concerns about measles and answer any questions you may have. And, if you or your children have been exposed to measles or show measles-like symptoms such as a rash or fever, call EHS for an appointment or just walk-in. Our wait times are short, there’s plenty of free parking, and we’re located in your neighborhood. Feel free to call for information or to schedule a visit with one of our physicians, 281-592-5400.