February 2, 2015

The large number of measles cases in the U.S. this year stresses the importance of parents making sure their children’s vaccinations are current. Healthcare providers should also use every patient encounter to ensure that all patients are up to date on vaccinations; especially before international travel. Travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S., which can then spread to communities or groups of people who are unvaccinated.

Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000 due to high 2-dose measles vaccine coverage, but it is still endemic, or large outbreaks are occurring, in countries in Europe (including France, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Switzerland), Africa, Asia (including India), and the Philippines. The increase in measles cases and outbreaks in the U.S. this year underscores the ongoing risk of importations, the need for high measles vaccine coverage, and the importance of prompt and appropriate public health response to measles cases and outbreaks.

Measles is a highly contagious, acute viral illness that is transmitted by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. Patients are considered to be contagious from 4 days before until 4 days after the rash appears. After an infected person leaves a location, the virus remains contagious for up to 2 hours on surfaces and in the air. Measles can cause severe health complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis, and death.

Please help protect your family and community by contacting your healthcare provider or the Adair County Health Department (660-665-8491) to learn more about Measles and the MMR vaccine.