Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease spread through the secretions of a an infected person.  Droplets can remain suspended in the air and/or remain on a desk, door knob etc. for 2 hours. Simply by breathing the air where an infected person has coughed or sneezed,  or by touching a surface they have contaminated and then touching your nose or mouth you can be infected with the measles virus if you haven’t had the measles or been vaccinated.  Measles can have serious complications such as swelling of the brain and pneumonia.  Death occurs in .2% of cases.

Time from exposure to initial symptoms (fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat, red eyes) is 10-12 days.  A rash appears at the hairline, face, and neck 3-5 days after initial symptoms and then spreads to the trunk, hands, and feet.  A measles infected person is contagious from 4 days before to 4 days after a rash appears.  They could be “spreading the virus”  before they even realize they have the measles.   1150_loresPHIL1150        The MMR vaccine is routinely given at 12 months of age with a second dose given at 4-6 years.  Babies younger than 12 months, patients whose immune systems are not functioning normally (those on chemotherapy, transplants, the elderly, HIV) and those who have not been vaccinated and who have not had the disease, are at high risk for contracting measles.  By vaccinating healthy individuals in society we can protect those people who are unable to receive the vaccine.

If you have questions regarding your immunization status please call your primary physician.  MMR is one of the vaccines the Sandwich Public Health Nursing Department offers routinely.