According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there was an increase of about 372 cases of measles in the U.S. last year. When combined with outbreaks this year, there is concern that this infection is making a comeback.
How the measles infection can spread
Measles is a virus infection that causes symptoms much like that of a bad cold or flu such as a cough, fever, runny nose and a rash. In some cases, it can cause ear infections, pneumonia or encephalitis (brain swelling) and death. It can spread easily because the virus can linger in the air for up to two hours after an infected person coughs or sneezes. Plus, people are infectious up to four days before they even know they have it.
The importance of vaccination
The CDC recommends routine vaccination for measles in the form of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine with the first dose given at ages 12 to 15 months, and a second dose between ages 4 and 6. Vaccination is the best way to prevent a measles infection – especially if you’re traveling this summer. Several countries besides the United States are experiencing measles outbreaks. The vaccine is 97% effective when both doses are received. When we all get vaccinated, we are also protecting those who are vulnerable to complications from this infection, such as children too young to get vaccinated, the elderly and those with a medical condition that prevents them from receiving the vaccine.