JACKSON, Miss. – Since near eradication of the disease in 2000, the number of cases of measles reported in the U.S. since January 1, 2019 has grown to over 700 individual cases in 22 states (as of printing of this issue of Well-Being).
Measles is a serious respiratory disease of the lungs and breathing tubes that starts with a high fever, followed soon after by a cough, runny nose, and red eyes. On the third to seventh day of illness, a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. The rash starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Symptoms usually appear about 11 days after exposure with a range of seven to 21 days.
Measles spreads when a person infected with the measles virus breathes, coughs or sneezes. It is very contagious, with the virus lingering in a room where a person with measles has been for up to two hours. Measles can be serious. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death. Young children are at higher risk for complications, especially those under 12 months old who are too young to receive the measles vaccination.
Please make sure you and your family are up-to-date on vaccinations, monitor for symptoms, and if symptoms do appear, call your physician or local emergency room BEFORE going to make sure the facility can make proper arrangements to avoid further spread of the illness.
For more information on measles, visit HealthyMS.com/measles. Follow MSDH by email and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.