Measles often begins with a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. After three to five days, a rash usually begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body. You can catch measles from an infected person as early as four days before they have a rash and up to four days after the rash appears. You can get measles just by being in a room where an infected person had been sitting. The measles virus can remain airborne in that area for up to two hours and infect unwary children and adults.
Fortunately, most people in this region have been vaccinated. When a person has been vaccinated as recommended, the vaccine is up to 97 percent effective in preventing measles. Most people at risk in the current outbreak are those who have not been vaccinated. Those who have been vaccinated or have had the measles earlier in their lives are generally not at risk.
If you think you or your child might have symptoms of measles call your doctor right away, especially if you have been exposed to someone with active measles. Your doctor will let you know if you need to come in for a visit. Measles is very contagious, which means you could give it to someone, even in a waiting room. It’s important before you go in, to tell your doctor or other medical professional, that you have symptoms of measles. They will give you instructions for what to do so you do not spread it further.
Stay home if you have the measles. Don’t go to school, work, to the store or to other people’s homes. Don’t have visitors to your home if you or your child have been diagnosed with the disease.
The best way to protect your family from measles is to get vaccinated. Doctors recommend that all children get the MMR shot and adults should get one if they didn’t get one as a child. The MMR shot is safe and effective at preventing measles, mumps and rubella. Children usually do not have side effects from the shot. In the few who do, side effects include fever, mild rash or soreness. It’s usually very mild and does not last long.
For more information or questions, contact your primary care doctor’s office or your local health department.