Measles News

Measles -- or, rubeola, in medical terms -- is a highly contagious infection best known for its total-body, reddish rash. It's often thought of as a childhood disease, but people of any age can get it. Those with measles usually develop a fever and respiratory infection in addition to the rash, but the disease can be dangerous and even life-threatening in some instances.

Vaccinations all but eradicated measles from the United States by 2000. Just 55 cases were reported in the nationwide in 2012, for instance. But in 2013, at least 189 people contracted measles. The disease is still prevalent in other parts of the world, and nearly a third of the U.S. cases were contracted while traveling abroad and then spread to others once back in the country.

Symptoms and Complications

A measles virus typically grows in the cells that line the lungs and the back of the throat. Common symptoms are a runny nose, cough, fever and a blotchy-looking rash from head to toe. For some, the infection eventually leads to an ear infection or pneumonia. It can also cause encephalitis and death in rare instances. In pregnant women, measles can lead to a miscarriage or premature birth.

Prevention and Treatment of Measles

In decades past, 3 to 4 million Americans got measles each year, and 400 to 500 would die. However, regular vaccinations -- mainly the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) -- changed that scenario.

Measles is highly contagious, with the virus spreading easily through the air from one person to the next when someone with measles coughs, sneezes or simply exhales. Anyone who's near a person with measles has a good chance of catching it if not already immune.

Vaccination remains the best way to ensure immunity and prevent measles. People who are up to date on measles vaccines should be adequately protected against the illness when traveling in areas where it persists. However, infants and young children, in particular, may not have had adequate vaccines, so it’s best to check with a doctor before traveling internationally.

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Nemours Foundation

Date Posted
Article Title
Measles and Summer Vacation

Why it's important to take extra precautions before traveling to Europe.

Vaccination Rates Very High for U.S. Kindergartners

More than 90 percent of new students have been immunized against major childhood diseases

Measles Making a Comeback in the United States

Though the rate remains low, study shows it doubled between 2001 and 2015

Vaccine Campaign in Poor Countries to Save 20 Million Lives

Program will also save $350 billion in health care costs by 2020, study says

Anti-Vaccine Family Members, Friends Spur Many Moms to Delay Baby's Shots

Study found even if pregnant women later hear better info from docs, they may still wait on immunizations

Just a Few Vaccine Refusers Could Endanger Many

A 5 percent drop in coverage could trigger a tripling of measles cases in young kids, study finds