Measles Outbreak: What to Know

02/02/2015 - Kendra Hooks

The highly contagious viral disease, Measles, has made its way to National headlines over the past few weeks due to a recent spike in cases spotted.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the White House urged individuals and parents to vaccinate themselves and their children amidst an outbreak of at least 100 measles cases originating at Disney theme parks in December.

The CDC has confirmed 100 measles cases in the U.S so far this year, and most of them linked to an outbreak that began in Disneyland in December, public officials said Friday. According to the California Department of Public Health, at least 58 of the cases of the highly infectious disease in the state have been epidemiologically linked to the Disneyland cluster. More than a dozen other cases have been confirmed in 13 other U.S. states and in Mexico.  No deaths have been reported in connection with the outbreak, which public health officials suspect began when an infected person from outside the U.S. visited Disneyland in Anaheim between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20.

Measles was officially declared eliminated in the United States in 2000 after decades of intensive childhood vaccine efforts. But last year the nation had its highest number of measles cases in two decades. The CDC reported more than 600 measles cases that year. 

What is mealses?

Measles is one of the most infectious diseases known to humankind and an important cause of death and disability among children worldwide. There is no specific treatment for measles and most people recover within 2–3 weeks.  However, those unvaccinated against the disease are at risk of severe health complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and encephalitis (a dangerous infection of the brain causing inflammation) and blindness. The disease can be fatal. The vast majority of measles deaths occur in developing countries and weak health infrastructures

How can you prevent the contraction of Measles?

Immunization is the best way to protect against the disease. If you or any children in your care are not up to date with immunizations, then contact your GP or practice nurse and arrange to catch up as soon as possible.  Over 90 percent of people are protected with one dose. This increases to 95 percent, if people have two doses. By getting immunized you are not only protecting yourself or your child – you’ll also stop this disease from spreading.

Do I need to be immunised against measles?

People born before 1969 or who have received two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) or who have had confirmed measles in the past are considered to be immune to measles. Adults born from 1 January 1969 who are unsure whether they are immune should check with their family doctor or practice nurse. For school children and adults who have only had one MMR vaccination, now is a good time to see your family doctor or practice nurse for a second. If your child has had the first MMR immunization, you can bring the second one forward – talk to your doctor or practice nurse.