In the year 2000, measles was considered eliminated in the United States. Yet in the first four months of 2019, nearly 700 cases of measles have been confirmed in the U.S., two of which were recently confirmed in Iowa.
The two Iowa cases are linked to travel outside of the country. The first Iowan was diagnosed with measles after returning from a visit to Israel. The second person with a confirmed case of measles in Iowa was exposed to the first case upon their return to the same household. Those individuals were unvaccinated.
“Measles is highly contagious. If one individual is infected with measles, 9 out of 10 people exposed to him/her may become infected if they are not vaccinated,” explained local family practice physician Dr. Bruce Feldmann.
“Additionally, measles is not always taken as seriously as it should be,” Dr. Feldmann added. “You may have a grandparent who recalls having measles as a child and considered it to be a harmless childhood disease. Measles, however, can have serious health complications, especially in children.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites the following statistics:
- About 1 in 4 people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized.
- 1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling, which could lead encephalitis.
- 1 or 2 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with early recognition and supportive care.
Worldwide, approximately 90,000 people, mostly children, die from the measles.
Even if you do not travel internationally, you can be exposed to measles. Every year, measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers (Americans or foreign visitors) who get measles while they are in other countries. Anyone who is not vaccinated is at increased risk. Antibody response, which translates to protection against the disease, is 99 percent after 2 doses of the vaccine.
Side effects can occur with any vaccination. The most common ones to occur from MMR vaccination include: fever, rash, allergic reaction and joint pain.
MMR does not cause Autism.
The best protection against exposure to measles is measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. MMR vaccine provides long-lasting protection against all strains of measles. Your child needs two doses of MMR vaccine for best protection:
- The first dose at 12 through 15 months of age
- The second dose 4 through 6 years of age
If your family is traveling overseas, the vaccine recommendations are a little different:
- If your baby is 6 through 11 months old, he or she should receive 1 dose of MMR vaccine before leaving.
- If your child is 12 months of age or older, he or she will need 2 doses of MMR vaccine (separated by at least 28 days) before departure.
For adults, the Iowa Department of Public Health recommends:
- At least one dose of MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccine
- If you were born before 1957, vaccination may not be needed
- If you were vaccinated prior to 1968 with a killed virus or aren’t sure what type of vaccine you received, visit with your healthcare provider about re vaccination.
Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States. Of these, approximately 500,000 cases were reported each year to CDC; of these, 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 developed encephalitis from measles. Since then, widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era.
Patients of Avera Medical Group Spencer are encouraged to check their personal immunization record and their children’s records. If vaccination is needed, or if they are unsure, please contact AMGS at (712) 264-3500 and ask to visit with your provider’s care coordinator.