Waushara County Health News
The CDC has reported an outbreak of measles in the U.S. currently involving 10 states. Presently there are no reported cases in Wisconsin, but there are cases in Illinois.
Measles is the deadliest of all childhood rash/fever illnesses. It is very contagious and spreads so easily that people who are not immune will probably get it when they come in close contact to someone who is infected. Measles is spread through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. The droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air can remain alive or active for up to two hours.
Symptoms appear one to two weeks after exposure and begin with a fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite, and red, watery eyes. These early symptoms are very similar to other illnesses so it is possible for someone who has measles to pass it on before they know that they are infected. After the initial symptoms, a rash develops at the hairline and travels down the body in the next 5-6 days.
Measles can also cause diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (brain infection), seizures, and death. Complications are more common in children under the age of five and adults over the age of 20.
Since measles spreads very easily, it’s important to protect against infection by getting vaccinated. The best protection is two doses of the MMR vaccine. As part of the childhood immunization program, the first dose is required between 12-15 months and the second dose before entering school, at 4-6 years old. It is important to check your child’s immunization records to make sure they have had two doses of MMR. If your child has had one or zero doses of MMR and is exposed to measles, they will have to stay home from school for two weeks, or more.
If you are an adult and have not been vaccinated with two doses of MMR, you can still get both doses. Or if you have only had one dose, you can and should, get the second dose as soon as possible.
MMR is a combination vaccine that provides protection against measles, mumps, and rubella. This vaccine is available through your health care provider, or the Waushara County Health Department (WCHD). The MMR vaccine provided at the WCHD is free to people with BadgerCare or with no health insurance. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call 920-787-6590.
Please remember, the best way to protect yourself and your child is to ensure that everyone has had two doses of MMR.