Lawrence Richmond, MD, practices family medicine out of our Park Nicollet Plymouth location. Dr. Richmond shares some facts about the Measles.
The Truth About Measles
Over the past couple of weeks, measles have become a hot topic in the media. Whether it’s the Disneyland outbreak or the debate regarding vaccinations, it’s important to understand measles and how you can keep your children safe. To help better inform you about the who, what and why about #measles , Lawrence Richmond, MD, shares answers to the most commonly asked questions:
Q: What is measles?
A: Measles is a contagious virus that causes cough, fever and rash. It can sometimes cause fatal illness including lung and brain infections.
Q: Wasn’t measles eliminated from the United States?
A: Yes, the vaccine developed in the 1960s has essentially eliminated the virus except for occasional outbreaks.
Q: What happened at Disneyland?
A: People visiting Disneyland who were not vaccinated became ill, likely due to a visitor from another country. Measles still occur in other countries where vaccination is not as common. Some of those infected were babies less than 12 months old who are too young for the vaccine.
Q: What should I do to protect my children?
A: Vaccinate your children. Health authorities indicate part of the Disneyland measles outbreak was worsened by children whose parents’ chose not to have them vaccinated. If you are concerned about the measles given this outbreak, consider leaving your baby less than 12 months old at home if you are visiting a setting similar to Disneyland.
In addition, certain adults should consider a second measles vaccine. Adults who travel globally or work in healthcare should consult with their doctor to make sure they have proper immunity
Q: Who is at highest risk for measles?
A: There are people with allergies, immune problems and other reasons (babies less than 12 months old) who cannot receive the vaccine. Everyone who does not have a contraindication should receive the vaccine. “Herd immunity” helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated.
Q: Is there an Autism link to the MMR vaccine?
A: No. A few years ago a journal article suggested a link between MMR and autism. It has been completely discredited by the entire scientific community. Unfortunately, it helped promote an irrational fear of vaccines in general.
Q: Do you have any reservation about giving your children the MMR vaccine?
A: Absolutely not. The vaccine risk is extremely low, especially compared to the risk of measles. Consult your doctor or www.cdc.gov for more information.
Q: What are symptoms of measles?
A: Symptoms of measles often appear seven to 14 days after being exposed to the virus. The first symptom to appear is usually a fever, which is accompanied by a rash that begins at the hairline and spreads downwards.
Q: What should I do if I think me or my child has measles?
A: The first thing you should do is call your care line or your physician. Since measles is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not effective against it. If your care team suspects measles, they will most likely recommend you stay at home since it is highly contagious and self-treatment is the best option. I recommend plenty of rest, fluids and acetaminophen to help reduce the fever. Make sure to keep in touch with your physician in case other illnesses such as pneumonia or ear infections develop.
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