What is measles?

Measles is a very serious disease that causes fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. One in 10 children who contracts the measles gets an ear infection; one in 20 gets pneumonia. Pregnant women may miscarry or give birth prematurely if they get measles. There is no specific treatment for measles.

When do symptoms appear?

About 7 to 21 days after exposure, the person will have a mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat. Two to four days after the initial symptoms, tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth. And three to five days after initial symptoms, a red or reddish-brown sandpaper-like rash appears, usually on the face, that then spreads. There may be a fever that spikes to 104.

What do I do to prevent getting measles?

The best way to prevent measles is to get the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, which protects against all strains of measles. Children require two vaccine doses, the first at 12 to 15 months and the second at four to six years. Pregnant women should wait until after giving birth to get the vaccine. Getting vaccinated up to 72 hours after exposure also lowers the risk of contracting measles.

I was at a location where I may have been exposed. What should I do?

Check your immunization records through your health care provider or online at Wa.MyIR.net. If you can’t locate the records, a blood test will show whether you have immunity. If you were born before 1957, you’ve likely had measles and are already immune. If you feel ill after a possible exposure, do not go to any health care facility without calling first, so providers can take appropriate precautions before you arrive. Measles is a notifiable condition, which means every case must be reported to the local health department.

Source: Washington State Department of Health