Measles – a disease previously declared eliminated from the United States in 2000 – is back, and on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control, during the month of January, 79 cases of measles were confirmed in 10 states. These include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. While there are currently no cases in Nebraska, the CDC still recommends that anyone not vaccinated get vaccinated as soon as possible.
According to the CDC, measles spreads when a person that is infected breathes, coughs or sneezes. It is highly contagious, and can be spread just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, and up to 2 hours after they leave. Almost anyone who has not had the MMR vaccination will get measles if they are exposed, and once an unimmunized person gets measles, it is easily spread.
Measles can be serious in all age groups. However the CDC states, children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age are more likely to suffer from measles complications such as ear infections leading to permanent hearing loss, pneumonia (infection of the lungs,) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain.)
Children typically receive their first MMR (which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella) dose between 12 and 15 months of age, and the second dose between the ages of 4 and 6. The CDC states that the MMR vaccine is very safe and about 97% effective at preventing measles.
The CDC recommends that teens and adults make sure they are up to date on their MMR vaccination, and if you do not have evidence of immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella (such as vaccination records,) you should talk with your doctor about getting vaccinated.
More information can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mmr/public/index.html