Measles Outbreak: What You Should Know

Since January, people in 17 states have become sick
February 13th, 2015

This year’s measles outbreak is the largest since 1990. People in 17 states (including Colorado) and Mexico have become sick with measles since January. Most of these people caught the virus when they were in California, where they came into contact with someone sick with measles.

It is very easy to catch measles from someone else, and the virus can make you very sick and can even cause death. Once someone catches measles it usually takes a week to 12 days before they feel sick, but they can be contagious even before the first symptoms appear.

What symptoms to watch out for:

  • Most people get fever, cough, runny nose, or red eyes first
  • Several days later most people get a rash
  • Some people get red spots on the inside of their mouth

What to do if you or a family member might have measles:

  • Stay at home! Don’t go to work, school or day care.
  • Call your doctor.

MEASLES CAN BE PREVENTED BY GETTING VACCINATED

  • Most of the people who catch measles are not vaccinated.
  • If you were born before 1957 you likely are protected without the vaccine because you probably caught measles when you were young.
  • People born after 1957 should receive 2 doses of measles vaccine (like the MMR) – these are usually given when a person is about 1 year old and again before starting school (4-6 years old), but this can be different depending on a person’s health and their risk of getting sick.
  • Some people aren’t completely protected even after getting the vaccine – your doctor can check to see if you need more doses to be protected.
  • If you have any questions about the measles vaccine, ask your doctor!