The recent outbreak of measles that occurred at Disneyland in California has now spread to our community. In the age of international travel, small and potentially deadly diseases can spread quickly from one place to another. Here is some sound, medical information about measles:
- Measles is a viral infection that spreads via respiratory droplets and is extremely contagious.
- Measles remains one of the leading causes of death among children worldwide, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Globally in 2013, 145,700 people died from measles. Most were children under age five.
- The incubation period between exposure and illness is usually 10 days, with a range of 8-21 days.
- The beginning phase of measles includes fever as high as 104 degrees, poor appetite and feeling poorly, followed by pink eyes (sometimes with increased tears or pain when looking at light), runny nose and cough. Blue, white, or gray lesions inside the cheeks across from the back teeth are sometimes (but often not) visible. This phase of measles lasts 2-14 days.
- The next phase of measles is a blanching, red, bumpy rash on the face, which then spreads. The rash can cover most of the body. Fever can persist for a few days into the rash phase.
- Complications of measles are common and can include pneumonia, brain infection (encephalitis), blindness, and infection of the heart muscle or its covering.
- No specific antiviral medication is available to treat measles once it starts.
- The man with a confirmed case in Eugene has exposed many people. The Lane County Public Health Department has identified four Eugene businesses that the man visited during the time he is believed to have been contagious. If you were in one of the following businesses during the dates listed, you are asked to contact Lane County Public Health as soon as possible. Those businesses are: WinCo Foods on Barger Drive on Dec. 30 and Jan. 7; Coburg Mongolian Grill in the Sheldon Plaza shopping center on Coburg Road on Dec. 31; Lumber Liquidators on W. 11th Avenue on Dec. 31; and Bi-Mart on Willakenzie Road on Jan. 2 and 3.
- Measles vaccination is recommended at age 1, with a booster between ages 4 and 6. If your child is unimmunized and is older than one year, please get a vaccination immediately, either at your doctor’s office or at Lane County Public Health.
- MMR vaccine does NOT cause autism. A scientist, who later admitted he faked his data and lost his license in Britain and the U.S., propagated that myth.
Please call us if you have questions about measles or your child’s measles vaccination status.