Measles has reared its’ viral head.
First documented by a Persian doctor in the 9th century AD, measles is an acute, highly contagious disease – one that can cause blindness, deafness, and brain damage, even death. It is spread through the air by coughing or sneezing – living for up to two hours in the air after an infected person has sneezed. The symptoms (fever, runny nose, cough, and rash) may manifest 7 to 14 days after a person is exposed. An infected person can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person (who are not immune) will also become infected.
In the early 1900’s an estimated 3-4 million people got the measles every year in the United States – of which only 500,000 cases were reported.
In 1912, for the first time, the United States government required all health care professionals to report diagnosed cases. During the following ten years they reported an average of 6,000 measles-related deaths (NOT cases) each year.
In 1954 John F. Enders (who shared the Nobel Prize in 1954 for his research on cultivating the polio virus that led to the development of a polio vaccine) & Dr. Thomas C. Peebles, in their search of a measles vaccine, collected blood samples from several students during a measles outbreak in Boston. They succeeded in isolating the virus in the blood of a thirteen-year-old boy, David Edmonston. Nine years later John Enders and his colleagues licensed their vaccine in the United States. In 1968, an improved, Edmonston-Enders strain was introduced & has been the only vaccine used in the United States since.
Americans born before 1957 are considered immune to the measles, as they would have been exposed and most likely would have had the measles in their youth. Anyone vaccinated between 1963 and 1989 would likely have received only one dose of the vaccine.
People vaccinated in the United States since 1989 would most likely have received two doses of the MMR shot (combined measles, mumps and rubella) this is now considered the standard for protection. Two doses of measles vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles, while one dose is about 93% effective if exposed to the virus.
In the latest outbreak, it has been discovered that up to 10 percent of the 695 confirmed measles cases occurred in people who received one or two doses of the vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This shows what can happen when a large number of people, even those who have been vaccinated, are exposed to the measles. CDC recommends that people who are living in or traveling to outbreak areas should check their vaccination status and consider getting a new dose.
How do you know if you are immune or have had the correct immunization?
If you can find your immunization records, great! If not? You can take a blood test called a titer. This test can tell you if you have immunity. Experts agree that even if you are immune to the measles (and have even had mumps and rubella) there is no harm in getting another dose of the MMR vaccine.
As of April 19, 2019 there has been only one case of measles reported in Florida. But as has been stated earlier, the disease can spread rapidly. Case in point: in 2015 there were 147 multi-state cases linked to an amusement park in California. The theory is that a traveler who was infected visited the park while they were contagious. Center for Disease Control analysis showed that this particular measles virus (B3) was identical to the virus type responsible for a large measles outbreak in 2014 in the Philippines.
For the measles vaccine to work, the body needs time to produce protective antibodies in response to the vaccine. People are usually fully protected after about 2 or 3 weeks. If you’re traveling internationally, make sure to get up to date on all your shots including MMR. Call ProHealth to find out what vaccines you may need if you are traveling out of the country. You should plan to be fully vaccinated at least 2 weeks before you depart. If your trip is less than 2 weeks away and you’re not protected against measles, you should still get a dose of MMR vaccine.
The fact is the measles (MMR) vaccine has worked so well, we have forgotten that we still need it. This virus is still alive and just as deadly as it was in 900 A.D.
If you were born before 1990 you may wish to consider getting measles vaccination.
Here at ProHealth we offer the MMR at all of our offices – no appointment necessary with a minimal wait.
- MMR Vaccine: $94
- MMR Titer: $84