States reporting measles cases this year are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington.
Fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes followed by a rash that spreads from the head down are all symptoms of measles. The disease can cause severe health complications including pneumonia, encephalitis (brain swelling), and death. The length of time from exposure to the onset of symptoms is typically 10-14 days, but can be as long as 21 days.
People sick with measles can spread the disease by coughing, touching or even leaving germs behind on surfaces. They are contagious beginning four days before their rash starts and lasting until four days after the rash ends. Anyone with symptoms should contact their health provider and ask for instructions before arriving at the point of care to prevent passing the disease to anyone else.
The recommended two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles, while one dose is about 93% effective. About 3 out of 100 people who get both doses of vaccine will get measles if exposed to the virus. However, they are more likely to have a milder illness, and less likely to spread the disease to other people, according to the CDC.
Anyone potentially exposed to measles should review their vaccine history.
Babies who have had a first dose of the MMR at 12 months to 15 months do not need to wait until age 4 for that second dose if they are living in an area with an ongoing outbreak or traveling to one; rather, babies should get the second dose anytime after 28 days from the first vaccination, according to the CDC. Adults born before 1957 are assumed to have had measles and are therefore immune and don’t need to be vaccinated. Anyone born during or after that year should get at least one dose of MMR if they lack evidence of having had measles or having received the vaccine.
Outbreaks continue to occur around the world, while the potential to spread the contagious disease from region to region remains. A case in point: New York state has reported 606 cases of measles in 2019, with New York City and Rockland County epicenters of disease. Both locations are home to Orthodox Jewish communities that have been reporting an increasing number of cases since October. The outbreak began when an unvaccinated child traveled to Israel and returned home with the highly contagious disease, New York City health officials stated.
That child infected others, and the number of cases grew. An infected person from New York visited Detroit and unknowingly spread the virus, which led to an outbreak in Michigan. State health officials in Connecticut said one case there was a resident who had visited New York.