Measles: a Disease Worth Preventing

boy-nurseFifteen years after public health officials declared that measles had been eradicated in the U.S., the disease is making a comeback, with outbreaks reported in numerous states.

Here’s what you need to know about those outbreaks and this highly contagious, yet preventable, disease.

First, outbreaks happen because measles is still common in many parts of the world, which means travelers can bring the disease here. And those travelers can infect unvaccinated people.

Second, at best measles, is unpleasant. At worst, it’s deadly.

Signs and symptoms include a red rash; a high fever; a cough; a runny nose; and red, watery eyes. The disease can sometimes also trigger pneumonia, deafness, lifelong brain damage and death. Babies and young children are especially vulnerable to dangerous complications.


Safeguard your child

Just how contagious is measles?

Nearly everybody who isn’t vaccinated will get sick if they’re exposed to the measles virus, which is spread when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes.

That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges parents to protect their children with the MMR vaccine, which helps prevent measles, mumps and rubella. It’s a very safe and effective shot.

For the best protection, children need two doses of the MMR vaccine. The first one at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second one at 4 to 6 years of age.

Parents traveling abroad with a baby should make sure their child gets one dose between 6 and 11 months old. Children 12 months and older should get two doses before any international travel.

CDC has more information about measles and the MMR vaccine at



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Stacy Madden