An eastern Missouri resident is listed among several persons
from throughout the nation who contracted measles while attending a recent
meeting in Maryland.
Meeting organizers are working with state public health
officials to notify everyone who attended the meeting of their potential
exposure to the measles virus. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior
Services is contacting the Missouri residents who may have been exposed.
In recent years, Missouri has averaged one to two cases of
measles per year, though it is not uncommon for no cases to be reported in a
given year. This most recent case is the fourth in Missouri in the last four
Measles is a serious, potentially deadly viral illness that
can be easily spread among people who have not been vaccinated. Measles can be
spread through a cough or sneeze or by touching objects where the virus has
landed. A person with measles often has a high fever, watery eyes, a runny nose
and a cough.
“The best way for people to avoid getting the measles is to
be immunized,” said Susan Kneeskern with the state health department’s Bureau of
Immunization Assessment and Assurance. “To prevent
measles, children – and some adults – should receive the measles, mumps, and
rubella (MMR) vaccine.”
It may take seven to 21 days after a person is infected for
symptoms to appear. A rash generally appears two to four days after the person
begins feeling ill. The rash usually appears red and blotchy, and can last up
to six days. It usually begins on the face and then spreads down where it may
eventually cover the entire body.
The person is considered contagious from four days before to
four days after the rash starts. If anyone in your family develops cold-like
symptoms with a fever and a rash, keep them at home. DO NOT go to a health care
facility without calling first. The ill person will need to be kept separate
from others to prevent further spread of the virus.
Two doses of the measles, mumps
and rubella vaccine are needed for complete protection. Children should be given
the first dose of MMR vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age. The second dose can be
given four weeks later, but is usually given before the start of kindergarten at
four to six years of age.
Kneeskern recommends that parents
check their children’s immunization records to ensure they are properly
vaccinated. Parents can check the “Recommended Immunization Schedules” on the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web site located at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/default.htm.