Link to CDC/AAP guidance handout for parents
Link to CDC information for parents: "Measles and the Vaccine (shot) to Prevent it"
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes (conjunctivitis), and a sore throat. It is followed by a rash that starts at the head and then spreads down over the rest of the body. The fever can persist, reaching extremely high temperatures, the rash can last for up to a week, and the cough can last about 10 days. About three out of 10 people who get measles will develop one or more complications including pneumonia.
The symptoms of measles generally appear about 7 to 14 days after a person is infected. Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth and on palate. Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104° Fahrenheit. After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades. There is no drug to cure measles.
How Measles Spreads:
Measles spreads through the air by airborne respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected. Infected people can spread measles to others from 4 days before to 4 days after the rash appears. The virus remains viable for up to 2 hour on surfaces and in the air. You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even if the person has gone!
People in the United States still get measles, but it's not very common. That's because most people in this country are protected against measles through vaccination once they reach 12 months of age. However, since measles is still common in parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa, measles is brought into the United States by people who get infected while they are abroad.
The MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) Vaccine is the best way to protect against getting measles. The risk of the MMR vaccine causing serious side effects is very rare. Getting the MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles!!
The CDC recommends all children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Children can receive the second dose earlier as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.