Measles: What to know


Already in 2018, more than 100 cases of measles have been reported across more than 20 states, including Texas according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Interestingly, the CDC says a majority of reported cases were in individuals who were not vaccinated.

Kimberly Avila Edwards, M.D., pediatrician with Dell Children’s Medical Center, recommends parents have their child vaccinated to prevent the spread of the measles, which can suppress the immune system and leave one vulnerable to other infections, like pneumonia.  She says it is especially important with children returning to school.

Dr. Edwards  says there are three things to know about measles and the importance of vaccination.

Measles: What is it? Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It starts with a fever. Soon after, it can cause coughing, sneezing, red eyes and a runny nose. Then a rash of tiny, red spots break out – starting at the head and spreading to the rest of the body. The virus spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. After initial exposure to the virus, it can sometimes take several days and up to two weeks for symptoms to appear.

What is the best protection against measles? One of the best ways to prevent measles is the MMR vaccine, which can protect against measles, mumps, and rubella.

How  effective is the vaccine? The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. The CDC recommends children get two doses of the MMR vaccine – the first between 12 and 15 months of age and the second between ages 4 through 6 years of age. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97 percent effective. One dose is about 93 percent effective.

“The MMR vaccine is highly effective,” said Dr. Edwards.  “It can prevent the measles or make a case of the virus exceptionally mild.”