Measles is a very contagious, serious respiratory disease that causes a rash and fever. It spreads very easily. You can catch it just by being in a room where someone with measles coughed or sneezed within the past two hours.
Symptoms usually appear about 10 to 12 days after a person is exposed to measles. The first symptoms are usually:
A small number of people who get measles will need to be hospitalized and could die. Many people with measles have complications such as diarrhea, ear infections, or pneumonia. They can also get a brain infection that can lead to permanent brain damage. Measles during pregnancy increases the risk of early labor, miscarriage, and low birth weight infants. Measles can be more severe in people with weak immune systems.
A person with measles can pass it to others from 4 days before a rash appears through the 4th day after the rash appears.
There is no treatment but acetaminophen and ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory) may be taken to reduce a fever. People with measles also need bed rest and fluids. They also may need treatment for complications such as diarrhea, an ear infection or pneumonia.
Immediately call the Department of Behavioral & Community Health (845-486-3402), your doctor or clinic for advice. If you’ve never been vaccinated, you should get the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine within 3 days of being exposed. This may help you to not get measles. You may need an immune globulin shot (antibodies) to the measles virus. It should be given within 6 days of being exposed. This may prevent or lessen the severity of measles. When calling for medical appointment, tell the office you may have been exposed to measles and follow their directions. Be prepared to review all activities and people you have been in contact with up to two weeks prior and one week after your symptoms occurred. Limit your exposure to other individuals until your receive your test results.
Getting the measles vaccine is the best way to prevent measles.
You are considered immune to measles if you have either written proof of 2 valid doses of MMR vaccine or other live, measles-containing vaccine; or if you have a written lab report of immunity; or you were born before 1957.
Anyone who lacks proof of measles immunity, as defined above, should receive at least one dose of MMR vaccine. Two doses of MMR vaccine are recommended for some groups of adults. This includes healthcare personnel, college students, and international travelers. The doses should be given at least 28 days apart.
We recommend that all children get the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine as follows:
For pre-kindergarten including day care, Head Start or nursery school: one dose of MMR vaccine
For Kindergarten to grade 12: two doses of MMR vaccine
For College: two doses of MMR vaccine
Check with your healthcare provider. If you were born before 1957 it’s likely that you have been exposed to the virus and are immune. If you were born between 1957 and 1971, the vaccine you received may not have been as reliable. Ask your doctor if you’ve been properly vaccinated.
Measles is still common in many other countries. Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling out of the U.S.
Travel and measles: www.cdc.gov/measles/travelers.html
Learn more about measles: www.cdc.gov/measles
How can I find out about measles outbreaks? www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html
For more information about vaccine-preventable diseases: www.health.ny.gov/prevention/immunization/
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