Myths and Facts About Measles

So far in 2019, the U.S. has had its largest outbreak of measles since 1992. Why this has happened is still being debated, but the number of unvaccinated children in the country, combined with an influx of unvaccinated people traveling from and arriving from other countries has certainly contributed to the spread of this disease. What does this mean to you and to your children? Should you even be concerned? Let’s separate the facts from the myths so that you have a better understanding of why measles has been in the news.

    1. Myth: Measles is a harmless childhood disease: Not True.
      • Even with the excellent healthcare in developed countries, measles is a deadly virus.
      • Once someone is infected, only the fever can be treated.
      • 1 in 20 children infected will develop pneumonia.
      • 1 in 1000 children infected will develop encephalitis or swelling of the brain.
      • 1-2 in 1000 children infected with measles will potentially die from it.
    2. Myth: Measles Causes Autism: Not True.
      • A false report was made by a scientist in 1998 in the UK linking the measles vaccine to Autism. It was later disproved and shown that this scientist was looking for financial gain from an attorney that was suing the drug company distributing the MMR vaccine.
      • This caused an outbreak of measles in the UK after 1998 for a few years when parents stopped giving their children the MMR vaccine.
      • Several studies have proven this suspected relationship to autism to be false.
    3. Fact: MMR vaccine is effective in preventing measles: True
      • One MMR given @ age 12-15 months of age is 93% effective.
      • Second MMR given @ age 4-6 years gives the child 97% immunity to measles.
    4. Fact: Can a person still get measles if vaccinated: True
      • It’s possible, but you would get a much milder case of measles.
      • Less likely to spread the disease to others.
      • No need to get the MMR if born before 1957—immune since probably had measles as a child.
    5. Fact: If unsure, can a person get tested for their immune status: True
      • A quick blood test for your immune status to the disease will yield results quickly in 1-2 days time.
    6. Fact: Signs a parent should look for if worried that your child might have measles: True
      • Measles starts with a high fever, beginning @ 10-12 days after exposure
      • Child then develops cough, red eyes, runny nose, sore throat beginning @ 4 days prior to the rash and lasting @ 4-5 days after the appearance of the measles rash.
      • Rash starts 3-5 days after symptoms start. It will appear first on the forehead and face, then spread downward over the body.
      • Rash lasts for about a week.
    7. Fact: Steps to take if your child gets the measles.
      • Only the fever can be treated with Tylenol or motrin.
      • Keep the child at home and not around other children.
      • Have the child drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated.
      • Watch for signs of respiratory distress such as severe coughing.
      • If you need to see your pediatrician and you are concerned that your child has measles, call ahead of time so the office can arrange for an isolated evaluation
        of your child.


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