Health Tips Brought to You By U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group. Our experienced medical experts provide information here that we hope will broaden your healthcare knowledge.
Today’s topic is measles, which has been in the news recently due to increased number of cases in the U.S. this winter. It has brought to the forefront the issue of vaccinations, which many feel is a major cause for the current measles outbreak. Please continue reading to learn more about the measles from Dr. David Hoffman, a Regional Medical Director and Medical Review Officer in Washington State. He has been a practicing physician for 25 years.
- Measles, why all the fuss?
Measles is a very contagious virus. It is spread through coughing and sneezing. Unlike many other viruses, it can live in the air or on surfaces for two hours after the infected person has left the room. In other words, you can be exposed and not even know it.
- Wasn’t Measles eliminated from the U.S.?
Yes, it was for a time. In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) declared that measles had been eliminated in the U.S. However, it was not eliminated worldwide. Due to increased foreign travel and decreased immunization rates in the U.S., the disease has returned.
- Can Measles be dangerous?
Yes. An infected person will have high fevers, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and several days later a rash. So what’s the big deal? The symptoms seem like a really bad cold. Wrong! One out of four people with measles will end up in the hospital. Measles can cause pneumonia and even brain swelling. Two out of every 1,000 infected individuals die.
- What can be done to prevent it?
Well, there is no “cure.” The measles must run its course, so we must focus on prevention. The measles vaccine has a great success rate. It is 93-97 percent effective in preventing the disease. The vaccine is one of the best at doing its job.
- Who should be vaccinated?
The CDC recommends that children should definitely be vaccinated. And it is not too late to get a measles shot. Your medical provider has a regular vaccine schedule and a “catch up” schedule to help older children get the protection they need. How about adults? Yes. Adults born in 1957 or later should have proof of vaccination or proof that they had the disease already, or a blood test that shows them to be immune. See your medical provider immediately if you need to be vaccinated.
Dr. David Hoffman is a Regional Medical Director and Medical Review Officer for U.S. HealthWorks in Washington State.