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Measles Virus-Working to eradicate a preventable disease

February 4, 2015

We have not yet reached our World Health Organization goal to be measles free and with measles outbreaks being in the news, below are a few important points to remember.

The illness begins with the following, which lasts for 2 to 4 days: high fever, cough, runny nose, loss of appetite, and sore red eyes (conjunctivitis or “pink eye”) .The virus can live in your nose, mouth, eyes and on your skin. It is highly contagious, meaning it spreads very easily. The measles virus spreads:                                                                                         ■through direct contact                                                                                                               ■through the air—such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes                               ■on objects that were recently exposed to infected mucus or saliva—such as shared utensils, cups and tissues

Key points to remember about measles

  • measles is a potentially serious disease caused by a virus
  • measles can be prevented with vaccine
  • it’s very infectious – measles spreads very easily and quickly from one person to another
  • it usually takes 10 – 12 days from contact with someone with measles to the first symptom
  • babies,  children and young adults along with those who may be immuno-compromised are at risk for serious complications.
  • if your child has measles, keep your child resting at home until they are well again
  • isolate the ill person and do not allow visitors as much as possible
  • your health provider will advise you about the safest time for your child to return to school or childcare
  • children and adults with measles often develop complications like pneumonia, deafness or swelling of the brain
  • immunization is the only way to prevent measles. Adult or child, we need two (2) doses of the MMR vaccine. (measles, mumps, rubella)

A contact is defined as any individual who has:

  • spent any length of time in a room or enclosed space with a confirmed measles case during that case’s infectious period (i.e. approximately 4 days before rash onset to 4 days after rash onset);or
  • spent time in a room previously occupied by a measles case, during that case’s infectious period, within 2 hours after that individual left the room/space

If you or someone at home becomes ill, contact Health Links at (204) 788-8200 or toll-free 1-888-315-9257, or your health provider as some may require hospitalization.It you think you have or have been exposed to measles, because it is highly contagious, call before going to any clinic.

If you have measles. There is no cure, so symptom control such as pain relievers (never give aspirin to a child), eating well and drinking lots of fluids, along with staying home at least 4 days after the rash appears and isolating yourself is the best plan. Call your health provider if you have any concerns.

From Health Services