Measles is an extremely
contagious viral illness characterized by a blotchy red rash that starts on the scalp and moves down the body. It is accompanied
by high fever, cough, runny nose, pink eye and bluish-white spots in the mouth. The disease is spread by coughing and sneezing.
The virus will linger in the air for up to 2 hours. An infected person is contagious for 4 days prior to appearance of the
rash and 4 days after it appears. Symptoms develop 1-2 weeks after exposure to the virus.
should one do to protect oneself? Measles vaccine became widespread in the US in 1957. It is typically administered at age
12-15 months of age.
born prior to 1957 have lifelong immunity.
Persons vaccinated between 1963 and 1967 may have received
an ineffective form of the measles vaccine. If persons in that category don’t know if they received the ineffective
vaccine, they can have a blood test to check immunity, or alternatively, be revaccinated with MMR vaccine.
Persons vaccinated from
1968 through 1988 received one dose of effective measles vaccine which provides 93% protection against measles. Those people
at high risk such as healthcare workers or those with recent exposure, should receive a second dose of vaccine as MMR.
Persons vaccinated from 1989 to the present day received two
effective doses of measles vaccine and have 97% protection against measles. When in doubt, there is a blood test to check
If a person is not immune to measles and is exposed to the virus, MMR
vaccine administered within 3 days of exposure can lessen the chance of developing the disease, or lessen the symptoms of the disease. When in doubt, one should call Broderman
Internal Medicine at 215-794-2462 to discuss one’s individual situation.