You have probably seen or heard about numerous measles outbreaks around the country. People get measles by breathing in the measles virus that is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. You can get measles just by being in the same room with an infected person. One way to make sure you and those around you aren’t part of that chaos is to know the signs of measles!
Being able to know the signs means you can get help as soon as possible. It also means being able to find the best treatment for yourself! Being proactive against this infectious viral disease will be your number one battle tool!
What is measles?
Measles (or rubeola) is a viral infectious disease that most commonly happens during your childhood. The only sure way to not get it is by getting vaccinated. As of June 2019, 28 us states have had a measles outbreak. This is the most we have ever seen since 1992. And here’s the kicker, measles was declared eliminated in 2000 (stats from the CDC).
Measles kills 100,000 people, most under the had of 5, a year. And yes, with the help of vaccines, the number continues to decline. However, with more and more outbreaks, young babies who can’t get the vaccine, are the number one risk.
How to spot the measles
Measles typically begins with a high fever that can reach up to 104. The most telltale sign of measles is the rash that appears! 2-3 days after contracting measles, you might find tiny white dots (Koplik spots) on the inside of your mouth, and after 3-5 days, the real rash breaks out along your face, torso, legs, and arms.
The only sure way of keeping measles out of reach is through the MMR vaccine. However, if you or anyone you know gets the measles, it’s important to get medical care right away for proper diagnosis and treatment!
If you have been exposed to someone who has measles immediately call your doctor and let them know that you have been exposed to someone who has measles. Your doctor can
- make special arrangements to evaluate you, if needed, without putting other patients and medical office staff at risk, and
- determine if you are immune to measles based on your vaccination record, age, or laboratory evidence.
If you are not immune to measles, MMR vaccine or a medicine called immune globulin may help reduce your risk developing measles. Your doctor can advise you, and monitor you for signs and symptoms of measles.
If you are not immune and do not get MMR or immune globulin, you should stay away from settings where there are susceptible people (such as school, hospital, or childcare) until your doctor says it’s okay to return. This will help ensure that you do not spread it to others.
Measles relief options
There are a few options available to help relieve measles symptoms. The first is to get plenty of rest. That can be anywhere from taking a sickday to even resting your eyes for a few minutes (the measles can cause sore dry eyes). Also, staying hydrated is super important! And finally, get some help with breathing. Go out and get a humidifier to ease the trouble you may have with breathing.
If you have measles, you should stay home for four days after you develop the rash. Staying home is an important way to not spread measles to other people. Ask your doctor when it is safe to be around other people again.
You should also
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put your used tissue in the trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid sharing drinks or eating utensils.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys, doorknobs, tables, and counters. Standard household disinfectants will readily kill the measles virus.
Thanks to vaccination, these diseases are very limited. Yet outbreaks are becoming more common, especially measles, due to vaccination refusals. There have been sporadic outbreaks in groups who have not been vaccinated, which has caused the diseases to re-emerge in larger numbers than we are use to seeing.
Adults born in 1957 or later who do not have a medical contraindication should receive at least one dose of the MMR vaccine, unless they have documentation of vaccination with at least one dose of measles-containing vaccine or other acceptable evidence of immunity to the disease.
College and university students, healthcare personnel, and international travelers are at increased risk for measles, and should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine to ensure adequate protection.
If you’re unsure whether you’re immune to measles, you should first try to find your vaccination records or documentation of measles immunity. If you do not have written documentation of measles immunity, you should get vaccinated with measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. There is no harm in getting another dose of MMR vaccine if you may already be immune to measles (or mumps or rubella). Another option is to have a doctor test your blood to determine whether you’re immune, but this is not recommended.
The MMRV vaccine stands for measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox). These are 4 viral diseases that can have serious consequences and cause long-term health issues. These diseases are spread from person to person. That is why it is recommended that all children receive the vaccination. The MMRV vaccine is given to children between 12 months and 12 years of age. It comes in 2 doses. It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that children are given the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose between 4 and 6 years of age.
Measles is a very serious sickness, and should never be taken lightly. With the outbreaks happening more and more around the country, we need to start being vigilant! Keep washing your hands and practicing proper hygiene! And please, remember we are only a phone call away!