Is your family planning to travel this summer? You may want to check with your healthcare provider to make sure your measles vaccine is up to date.
The United States is experiencing the worst outbreak of measles in 25 years, with more than 700 cases reported as of the end of April. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), active outbreaks are present in New York, Michigan, Georgia, Maryland, and California.
You might know measles as the contagious childhood disease that causes a rash. That telltale rash, though, usually breaks out 3 – 5 days after symptoms begin:
High fever (may spike to more than 104° F)
Red, watery eyes
According to the CDC, about 1 in 4 people who get measles will need to be hospitalized for care. 1 in 1,000 people with measles will develop an infection that causes brain swelling (encephalitis), which can lead to brain damage. And measles is fatal for 1 or 2 people of every 1,000, even with the best care.
Measles was actually declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, thanks to the widespread availability and use of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.
Measles hasn't been eradicated worldwide, so travelers and groups skeptical of vaccine safety that started an anti-vaccination movement have allowed measles another foothold in the U.S.
In addition, the CDC recommends some at-risk adults such as travelers, healthcare workers and students receive an additional measles vaccine. The MMR vaccine is safe for children and adults, and will protect you from this highly contagious disease.