Measles Concerns Addressed by Dr. Vik Dabhi, CMO, PacMed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that, as of February 2, 102 people from 14 states, including Washington state, are reported to have measles. Measles is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. Coughing, sneezing and physical contact can all spread the infection. The measles virus can live for up to two hours on surfaces or in the air where an infected person coughed or sneezed. According to the CDC, “measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.” About three out of 10 people who get measles will develop one or more complications, which can include pneumonia, ear infections or diarrhea.

The first symptoms of measles include a high temperature, sore eyes and a runny nose. A red blotchy rash usually develops about three to four days after the first symptoms appear. You can see the complete list of symptoms on the CDC website. Please call your doctor if you or your children exhibit any of these symptoms. For the safety of our staff and patients, we may need to place you in a separate waiting area to decrease the chance of potentially infecting others.

PacMed encourages you to be sure you are protected against measles. Measles can be prevented with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. You can read the CDC’s measles vaccine recommendations here.

If you received two doses of (live) measles vaccine as a child, you are considered protected for life: you do not need a booster vaccine. Inactivated vaccine was used from 1963 to 1967 in the US, and individuals who were vaccinated during this time will need revaccination, especially if risk of exposure is high. Adults who do not have evidence of immunity will need at least one dose of measles vaccine. Adults who are going to be in a setting that poses a high risk for measles transmission should make sure they have had two doses separated by at least 28 days. This includes students at post–high school education institutions, health-care personnel and international travelers. If you are not sure whether you were vaccinated, talk with your doctor.

Find out more on the CDC’s measles website: www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html.

To learn more about Dr. Dabhi, visit his profile on the PacMed web site .

February 3, 2015