Offered by: Dr. Michele Tuepker, MD – Premier Pediatrics
In early January, a case of measles was diagnosed in northeast Denver and the individual was hospitalized.
Early signs of measles include fever ≥ 101 F, cough, runny nose, and red, irritated eyes. The measles rash happens 2-4 days after the initial signs, and usually begins on the face. The rash then spreads down and out towards the hands and the feet. The rash is red and has both flat areas and raised, bumpy areas.
Measles is extremely contagious and is spread by respiratory droplets, i.e. a cough or sneeze. The droplets can be present in an area for several hours after the person with measles visited. Once exposed, it takes 7-21 days for symptoms to develop. Children younger than 5 years old and adults older than 20 years old are more likely to suffer from significant complications from a measles infection, which include ear infections that can lead to permanent hearing loss, diarrhea, pneumonia, and rarely encephalitis (brain swelling) that can lead to death.
Vaccination is the safest, best, and most effective way to prevent developing measles. The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is routinely given at 12-15 months and 4-6 years of age, with 93% and 97% effectiveness after one and two doses respectively. Additionally, someone who is exposed to measles and has not been appropriately immunized may see a decrease in symptoms if they are vaccinated with the MMR vaccine within 72 hours of exposure.
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