Measles Alert: January 2015
WARNING: Measles is present in San Diego. Measles, also called rubeola, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that's caused by a virus. It causes a total-body skin rash and flu-like symptoms, including a fever, cough, and runny nose. There are 20 million cases that occur worldwide every year. Since measles is caused by a virus, there is no specific medical treatment and the virus has to run its course.
Signs and Symptoms
While measles is probably best known for its full-body rash, the first symptoms of the infection are usually a hacking cough, runny nose, high fever, and red eyes. A characteristic marker of measles is Koplik's spots, small red spots with blue-white centers that appear inside the mouth.
The measles rash typically has a red or reddish brown blotchy appearance, and first usually shows up on the forehead, then spreads downward over the face, neck, and body, then down to the arms and feet.
Measles is highly contagious — 90% of people who haven't been vaccinated for measles will get it if they live in the same household as an infected person. Measles is spread when someone comes in direct contact with infected droplets or when someone with measles sneezes or coughs and spreads virus droplets through the air. A person with measles is contagious from 1 to 2 days before symptoms start until about 4 days after the rash appears.
Recent Outbreaks: Before measles vaccination became available in the 1960s, more than 500,000 cases of measles were reported every year. Prior to this year, just an average of 63 cases per year were reported. However, because of misinformation that is available on the Internet, there is now a resurgence of Measles. More than 90% of those infected were not immunized or their immunization status was unknown. Infants are generally protected from measles for 6 months after birth due to immunity passed on from their mothers.
Prevention: Measles vaccine is not usually given to infants younger than 12 months old. But if there's a measles outbreak, or a child will be traveling outside the United States, the vaccine may be given when a child is 6-11 months old, followed by the usual MMR immunization at 12-15 months and 4-6 years.
Women, infants, or kids with weakened immune systems can be given immune globulin to modify the disease if it's given within 6 days of exposure.
Kids with measles should be closely watched for complications such as otitis media, croup, diarrhea, pneumonia, and encephalitis (a serious brain infection), which may require antibiotics or hospitalization.
When to call our office: Call us immediately if you suspect that your child has measles. Also, it's important to get medical care following measles exposure, especially if your child:
· is an infant
· is taking medicines that suppress the immune system
· has tuberculosis, cancer, or a disease that affects the immune system
If your child needs to be seen, please let us know that you think that your child has Measles. Please let us know before you arrive in our office so that we can meet you in the parking lot. This is to avoid the possibility of exposing other people in the elevator, waiting room or hallways.