Measles outbreak hits 21 states, no cases in Victoria

The Victoria Public Health Department releases statement on recent measles outbreak in Texas and 20 others states.

Victoria County has not had any reported cases of measles this year, so we have just continued public health surveillance and vaccine education. The more people we can get vaccinated, the less risk we have of an outbreak here in Victoria County.

Measles is an extremely contagious virus and can spread easily where there are groups of unvaccinated people. It would take only one infected person to spread the virus rapidly. 9 out of 10 people, who are not vaccinated or immune, that come in contact with an infected individual could also become infected.

The measles virus is spread through coughing and sneezing, but can also be spread through contaminated air or touching of an infected surface, followed by touching the eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus is capable of living for up to two hours in an area where an infected person coughed or sneezed. Measles can be spread to others starting about 4 days before rash symptoms appear through 4 days afterwards.

If someone believes that they have been exposed to an infected individual with the measles, they should immediately call their doctor and let them know. Their doctor will be able to help them identify their risks and determine if they are immune. It is vital that they call their doctor or the hospital in advance to let them know of the exposure so arrangements can be made for their evaluation without putting other patients and medical staff at risk.

If people have not gotten their vaccination and have been exposed to a confirmed measles case, they should avoid places where there could be other susceptible people. This would be places like schools, nursing homes, hospitals (without prior arrangements), and childcare facilities.

People should check theirs and their child’s immunization records, to make sure everyone is up to date on their vaccinations. Do not wait for a measles case in Victoria County to react. Protect yourself and your family by getting vaccinated and preventing an infection in the first place.

What are signs and symptoms of measles?

Generally we would expect to see someone with measles having a high fever, a cough, a runny nose, and conjunctivitis or red watery eyes. 2 to 3 days after their symptoms begin they will develop tiny white spots, called Koplik spots, in their mouth. 3 to 5 days after their initial symptoms, they will breakout in a notable rash. This rash will start as flat red spots on the face, at the hairline and then progress down the neck, trunk of the body, arms, legs, and the feet. The rash spots can develop raised bumps and join together as it spreads over the body. Once the rash has appeared the individual will typically have a fever spiking to more than 104° Fahrenheit.

What should people look out for?

Watch for signs of any symptoms if an exposure has occurred or you have traveled to an area where measles are common. These symptoms can appear anywhere from 7 to 21 days after being exposure. People should talk with a medical professional if they are worried about an exposure.

The Measles Vaccine

Measles vaccine is a live virus vaccine. In the U.S. it comes as a combination Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The MMR vaccine is extremely safe, and multiple studies have shown it does not cause autism, in spite of false information that has been circulated for years. For children, MMR is routinely given on/after 12 months of age and on/after 4 years of age. All school children K-12 are required to have 2 doses of measles of vaccine. In the event of a measles outbreak parents who have submitted “Reason of Conscience” exemption forms for MMR to schools will find their children excluded from school for the entire duration of the outbreak. This is for their protection, and to protect other children in the school. Adults who graduated high school before 1990 most likely only had one dose of measles vaccine and may need another. Adults born before 1957 most likely had an active case of measles disease, which confers lifetime immunity, and they should not need another dose. Most health care personnel are required to show proof of 2 doses of measles vaccine, or proof of immunity, regardless of date of birth. Young babies, and immunocompromised individuals who have not yet, or cannot, receive the measles vaccine are at greatest risk for contracting and suffering severe complications from measles disease. The best way to protect this vulnerable population is to ensure the rest of us are properly immunization against this highly contagious virus.