After a long, hard day, you turn on the news and hear about the latest outbreak of measles. Various counties all over the country have been affected (even in our own backyard: Clark County). Here are a few pointers and words of advice regarding this disease.
Measles is characterized by fever, cough, runny nose, red eye, and a very specific rash. It spreads airborne and is highly contagious. But how can you protect yourself? The good news is that if you were born in North America, you almost certainly received 2 doses of the vaccine already, one as a toddler, and one by age 6. In general, all adults born before 1957 are assumed to be immune to measles. If you are unsure about your status, you can contact your healthcare provider to order a simple blood test to detect for antibodies against measles. The CDC has not recommended any changes (such as boosters) for adults as a result of the recent measles outbreaks, which primarily affected unvaccinated children.
Measles has unfortunately returned due to people who have declined to get the vaccine for their children. People have declined the vaccine due to an old study claiming vaccines can cause Autism. This study was flawed and has since been disproven throughout the scientific community. Vaccination is the only way to prevent obtaining this disease.
Current CDC guidelines recommend all children get two doses of the vaccine (as part of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella, or MMR for short), starting with the 1st dose at 12-15 months, and the 2nd dose at 4-6 years of age. Adults without evidence of immunity should get at least one dose. Protect yourself, and feel free to ask your healthcare provider any questions.