About the Disease

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness. Symptoms of measles generally begin 8 to 12 days after exposure and include cough, runny nose, red eyes and fever, usually 101 degrees or higher. A few days later, a generalized rash appears, beginning on the face and then spreading over the body. The rash lasts for several days. A person with measles is considered contagious from the onset of cold symptoms until several days after the rash appears. A person with measles should be restricted to his/her own home and avoid all contact with people who do not have documented measles immunization.

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of measles. If you believe that either you or your child might be coming down with them, call your physician or the Garfield County Public Health Nurse at 945-6614, ext 136 or 625-5200.

Measles is very contagious and can linger in a room for several hours. Consequently, it is important that you contact your physician by phone and that you not go to the doctor's office in person.

Complications sometimes occur and can be serious. They include ear infections, pneumonia, convulsions and inflammation of the brain. Death occurs in approximately one in 1000 people who contract measles

.It is important that you contact your family physician if you suspect that you or a member of your family has contracted measles.

About the Vaccine

Vaccination is the best way to protect against measles. Doctors recommend that almost all non-immune children and adults born in or after 1957 get the measles vaccine. Children should have an MMR vaccination as soon as they have passed their 12-month birthday. If a child has never been immunized and is exposed to measles, he/she has a very high chance of being infected. If a child receives one MMR immunization after 12 months of age but before exposure, there is still a 5% chance of infection. If a child receives two doses of MMR vaccine after 12 months of age and before exposure, the chances of infection are 1% or less.

But there are some cautions concerning vaccinations. Tell your doctor or nurse if you are less able to fight serious infections because of:

  • a disease you were born with
  • treatment with drugs such as long term steroids
  • any kind of cancer
  • cancer treatment with x-rays/drugs


  • Pregnant women should wait until after pregnancy to get the measles vaccine
  • People with a serious allergy to eggs or the drug neomycin should not get the vaccine
Tell your doctor or nurse if you:
  • are pregnant or trying to get pregnant at this time
  • have ever had a serious allergic reaction or other problem after getting measles vaccination
  • now have a moderate or severe illness
  • have ever had a seizure
  • have a parent, brother or sister who has had seizures
  • have gotten immune globulin or other blood products (such as a transfusion) during the past several months.

The risks from the vaccine are much smaller than the risks of the disease. Almost all people who have a measles vaccination have no problem with it.

If you want to learn more, ask your doctor or nurse. She/he can give you the vaccine package insert or suggest other sources of information.
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