The government is urging parents to get their children vaccinated against measles after half a dozen states report cases. Measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, thanks to a highly effective vaccination program.
There have been 52 cases of measles in seven states in less than a month. The Georgia Public Health Department confirms three cases in metro Atlanta. All three were in the same family.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says parents should get their children vaccinated on schedule with the MMR vaccine. Teens and adults should check with their doctors to make sure they are protected against measles. People six months and older should be protected against measles before leaving for international trips.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases says, "I am concerned because that's certainly a lot of cases of measles and we want to make sure that Americans take advantage of available vaccines to protect their children."
Messonnier says, "kids who are getting infected by measles are getting it because they're traveling abroad, or they are exposed to people who are traveling abroad."
- Measles is a serious respiratory disease caused by a virus.
- Measles starts with a fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. The rash can last for a week, and coughing can last for 10 days.
- Measles is highly contagious and spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 9 out of 10 people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.
- You can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left.
- An infected person can spread measles to others even before he or she develops symptoms—from four days before they develop the measles rash through four days afterward.
- Measles can cause serious health complications, such as pneumonia or encephalitis, and even death.
- Children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age are at high risk of getting a serious case of measles.
- 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.
Before the U.S. measles vaccination program started in 1963, about 3–4 million people in the U.S. got measles each year; 400–500 of them died, 48,000 were hospitalized