What you need to know about the 2019 measles outbreak and how to stay protected

What is measles?

Measles is a highly contagious virus that spreads easily from person to person. Symptoms typically include high fever, cough, runny nose (coryza) and red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis). A red, blotchy rash starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body follows a few days later. In some children, complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis and even death will occur.

How is measles spread?

Measles is spread by droplets that are sprayed into the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. It can live in the airspace for 2 hours. When people breathe in contaminated air or touch contaminated surfaces then touch their eyes, nose and mouths, they can contract the virus. Measles in contagious 4 days before the rash appears until 4 days after the rash onset.
How can measles be prevented? Get vaccinated! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend children receive the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine at age 12-15 months and again at 4-6 years. According to the CDC, two doses of MMR are 97% effective at preventing measles and a single dose is 93% effective.

What should we do if we are traveling?

International Travel

Prior to all international travel, the CDC strongly recommends infants 6-11 months receive 1 dose of MMR vaccine. (Don’t forget that an infant who receives one dose prior to their first birthday should get two more doses according to the routine vaccine schedule at 12-15 months and another at 4-6 years or at least 28 days after). Children 12 months and older, teens and adults should get 2 doses separated by at least 28 prior to international travel. We recommend receiving MMR at least 2-3 weeks prior to travel.

Domestic Travel

If your child has received two doses of MMR at 1 year and at least 28 days later, no additional MMR vaccines are required. Check the CDC website to learn if the area you are traveling to is a region with a current measles outbreak. If an outbreak is present and your child has received 1 or fewer doses of MMR, call our office to determine if early vaccination is recommended by the local health department.

If you are concerned you or your child has measles, stay at home and contact our office.

Additional Resources

  1. CDC
  2. MA Department of Public Health
  3. Protecting Your Baby From a Measles Outbreak (AAP)