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Measles: an extremely contagious virus

Measles: an extremely contagious virus

You may have recently heard about an outbreak of the measles in Washington state. This year, 206 children have had confirmed cases of measles. Here are some fast facts to know about measles virus.

  1. It starts out like a cold. The initial symptoms of measles are very similar to those of a common cold. Is most commonly begins with high fever, cough, runny nose, and red watery eyes and is followed a few days later by a rash that begins on the face and hairline and spreads downward towards your limbs. This can make it difficult to distinguish a common cold from the measles. People mistakenly think “measles is just a harmless cold with a rash”. Not for everyone.
  2. It is a serious illness. For every 1,000 children who get the measles, one to two will die from it. Let me say that again, for every 1,000 children who get the measles, one to two will die from it. One out of every 1,000 children infected will develop encephalitis. Encephalitis is swelling of the brain that can lead to seizures, deafness, and intellectual disability. One in 20 children developed pneumonia as a complication of measles. Additionally, measles can cause pregnant women to have preterm birth.
  3. Kids are hit the hardest. Children under 5 years and over 20 years are most likely to develop complications of all age groups.
  4. The virus is highly contagious. Measles virus is spread through mucus in the throat or nose of an infected person. Measles can live outside of the body for up to two hours in the air of the room where an infected person coughed or sneezed, and up to 90% of the people close to that person will become infected if not immune.
  5. It can be prevented. Immunization is an effective and safe way to help prevent infection with measles. Measles immunization is available for children 12 months and up. The recommended doses are given at 12 months of age and again at 4 years of age. Two doses of the MMR immunization are about 97% effective at preventing the measles.

If your child is not current with the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination (MMR) or other recommended vaccinations, call the Campbell County Medical Group Pediatric Clinic at 307.688.3636 for an appointment today.

Hollie Stewart, MD, is a Pediatrician in the Campbell County Medical Group Pediatrics Clinic with Francesca McCaffrey, DO, MPH. The Clinic is located in the Main Clinic at 501 S. Burma Avenue in Gillette, Wyoming, on the south side of Campbell County Memorial Hospital. Learn more about this practice at www.cchwyo.org/peds.