Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat, and is followed by a rash that spreads all over the body.
The United States is currently experiencing a large, multi-state outbreak of measles linked to an amusement park in California. From January 1 to February 13, 2015, 141 people from 17 states in the U.S. and Washington DC have been reported as having measles.
Parents should make sure their children are protected against measles with two doses of MMR vaccine–the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age and the second dose 4 through 6 years of age.
Measles Can Be Serious
• About 1 in 4 unvaccinated people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized;
• 1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling (encephalitis);
• 1 or 2 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care
Unless they have evidence of measles immunity, college and other students, health care personnel, and international travelers should get 2 appropriately spaced doses of MMR vaccine, and other adults should get 1 dose. Ask your health care provider if you have questions about whether you need MMR vaccine.