Resources and Guides - Securing Knowledge
Measles, a disease declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, has made a comeback among children and adults alike. A recent outbreak of the disease has infected more than 640 people, making the rise of measles in 2014 the largest resurgence since the measles vaccine was introduced in 1963.
Commonly identified by a blotchy red rash that spreads from head to foot, measles is a respiratory illness suffered mostly by children. Measles is highly contagious and can be contracted through inhaling infected droplets sprayed when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, or by touching the mouth, nose, or eyes with fingers that have come into contact with a surface where infected droplets have landed. Since each measles case can lead to 14 to 15 other cases, the disease has the potential to spread exponentially within a very short time. Complications can include ear infections, pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and even death. Before a vaccine was available, approximately 400-500 people died in the U.S. each year from the disease.
The initial symptoms usually develop one to two weeks after infection:
Next, a spotty, red rash appears on the victim, often spreading over the entire body. If there are no complications, the disease usually runs its course within 7-10 days.
Immunization against measles is critical to prevention of the disease. In the United States, the measles vaccine is administered through a combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR). The MMR vaccine is exceptionally effective in preventing infection. According to the Oregon Health Authority, those who receive one dose or shot of the vaccine are 90% protected against measles. Those who receive two doses of the vaccine are 95% protected.
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