Three new cases of measles are now (as of 4/18/19) reported in Michigan, raising the state’s total to 42.
With that in mind, it’s important to know how the virus spreads, ways to stay safe, and who’s most at risk.
Measles are highly contagious.
The virus is airborn, meaning you could catch the measles from being in the same room as an infected person up to two hours after that person has already left.
Cough, runny nose, fever, these are just a few of the early symptoms of measles.
But nurses like Phyllis McLellan say after a few days, tiny white spots start to show up inside the mouth and a skin rash makes a harsh appearance.
“You might have been exposed and be becoming sick for over 3 or 4 weeks before you actually know it and before you’re actually able to tell somebody I think I’ve been exposed to the measles,” says McLellan, Patient Safety Specialist at Sparrow.
McLellan says this delayed reaction shows just how dangerous measles can be, especially for young children.
“Dehydration, they can actually have pnemonia, some, very rare but they can develop brain swelling which can lead to what’s called “encephalitis” and that can actually cause permanent damage or death,” says McLellan.
According to the CDC, the United States was declared measle free in the year 2000. Since then, few cases have been confirmed except in the year 2014, and now again in 2019 where from just January to April more than 500 cases have been found.
42 of which, in southeast Michigan.
So who’s at risk?
McLellan says, newborns. As the first of two routine MMR doses is not typically given until 12 months of age.
“It’s really important that they are protected, they are not in confined areas, they are not out in public spaces where there’s a concern of a measles outbreak,” says McLellan.
She also says adults born between 1957 and 1989 may be at risk.
Health officials say these people may have only got one dose of the vaccine which might not be enough to protect them during an outbreak.
If you have concerns, you’re encouraged to talk with your doctor.
Health officials say there is a way to do a blood draw test to see how immune you are to the virus and check if you need a booster.
You can also talk with your doctor about getting your immunization record.