What is measles?
Measles is a highly contagious and infectious viral disease occurring most often in late winter and spring.
In 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the United States. However, in 2019, the CDC reported almost 1,000 cases of measles (and counting) in the U.S., the largest number of reported cases since 1994.
Measles is preventable! Protect yourself, your family, and your community with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, especially before traveling.
- CDC’s MMR vaccine routine recommendations are as follows:
- Children 12 months of age or older should have 2 doses, the first dose at age 12 to 15 months and the second dose between 4 to 6 years.
- Adults who do not have evidence of immunity should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.
- Certain persons should receive two doses of MMR. This includes healthcare personnel (not just clinical staff), students at post-secondary institutions (such as colleges or vocational schools), and international travelers.
- CDC’s MMR vaccine travel (international) recommendations are as follows:
- Infants 6 months through 11 months of age should have 1 dose of MMR vaccine.
- Children 12 months of age and older should receive two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.
- Adults with documentation of one dose of MMR vaccine should get a second dose. Adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.
Call your doctor’s office or find a health provider to get the vaccine as soon as possible if you’re not vaccinated or are unsure.
Symptoms & Treatment
Symptoms begin with a fever lasting a couple of days, followed by cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis (pink eye). A rash is then seen, starting on the face and upper neck, spreading down the back and trunk, then extending to the arms and hands, as well as the legs and feet. After about 5 days, the rash fades in the same order in which it appeared.
There is no specific treatment for measles, but there are medicines available so your symptoms are less severe.
Remember, everyone can play an active role in preventing a measles outbreak!
Parents and Caregivers
- Use the resources on DC Health’s site to learn more about measles.
- Make sure you and your family are up to date with their MMR vaccine and other vaccine preventable diseases.
- Discuss the MMR vaccine and the child immunization schedule with your health care provider.
- Get you and your child(ren) vaccinated before traveling.
- Share accurate, reliable information within your networks.
Day Care Centers and Schools
- Review your center/school’s compliance rates and identify students due or overdue for their MMR vaccine.
- Send communication to parents whose children are due or overdue for the MMR vaccine and other vaccines.
- Ensure staff are educated about the measles.
- Take the proper steps to report a suspected case of measles to DC Department of Health.
- Encourage families to speak with their health care provider about their child’s vaccination status.
- Assess your practice/clinic’s readiness to administer the MMR vaccine by checking vaccine inventory and supplies.
- Take advantage of every patient encounter to educate, answer questions, and vaccinate patients who have not been vaccinated or are behind on MMR vaccine. Do not use self-reporting as proof of immunity.
- Ensure staff are up to date with the facts about measles and the MMR vaccine.
- Ensure your staff is equipped and trained on standard precautions in order to protect employees and additional patients.
- For more information on measles testing and recommendation, please visit DC Health’s Vaccine Preventable Diseases page.