Measles: why an outbreak is worrisome and preventable

In the state of Texas for January 1, 2017- December 31, 2017, there was one reported case of measles. In Texas since January 1, 2018 there have already been six reported cases of measles in Ellis County.

Measles is one of the most contagious illnesses. If you are susceptible to measles, especially if you are unvaccinated, then you have a 90% of developing measles. Measles can live in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves the area. The virus is transmitted through the air when a person sneezes, coughs, and even breathes. Recently scientists are discovering that measles can cause immune amnesia. This means that any immunity your body has built up through illness or vaccinations can be wiped out if you develop measles. This is why the rates of all childhood illness significantly dropped with the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccination. 

What are the complications if you do develop measles? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), common complications from measles include ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, and diarrhea. Even in previously healthy children, measles can cause serious illness requiring hospitalization. One out of every 1,000 measles cases will develop acute encephalitis, which often results in permanent brain damage. One or two out of every 1,000 children who become infected with measles will die from respiratory and neurologic complications. Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a rare, but fatal degenerative disease of the central nervous system characterized by behavioral and intellectual deterioration and seizures that generally develop 7 to 10 years after measles infection.

Who is most at high risk for these complications? Children under 5 years of age, pregnant women, adults over the age of 20, and immunocompromised people, such as from cancers or autoimmune diseases.

How can you protect yourself and other from measles? Vaccination is the safest and most effective way to protect yourself and loved ones from developing measles. Children younger than 12 months can not receive the vaccine or those immunocompromised. The best way to protect those who cannot receive the vaccine is to be vaccinated if you are eligible.

According to the CDC, the vaccine is 93% effective after one dose and 97% effective after two doses. Immunity does not occur immediately after a vaccine is given. It can take up to two weeks after the vaccine is given to be effective and develop immunity. Side effects with the MMR vaccine are fever (100-102℉), rash (up to two weeks after the vaccine), redness, pain and swelling at the injection site. We strongly recommend vaccines because we believe in the safety and efficacy.  The potential risk of harm is greater if an infant or child develops measles than the risk of the MMR vaccine. If you would like more information you can go to or call our office.