Measles

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Measles is a highly contagious vaccine preventable rash illness caused by the measles virus. The disease is also commonly known as rubeola.

Measles causes fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. While there is no specific treatment for measles, supportive care should be given to anyone who acquires measles.

The best way to prevent measles is through the wide-spread use of the measles vaccine. The vaccine to prevent measles is the MMR vaccine and is generally administered when a child is between 12 and 15 months of age. A second dose of MMR is required in Arizona before a child starts school and can be administered as soon as four weeks after the first dose, if necessary. More than 99% of individuals who receive two doses of MMR vaccine develop evidence of immunity to measles.

Before the creation of a measles vaccine, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. Each year in the United States, about 450 people died because of measles, 48,000 were hospitalized, 7,000 had seizures, and about 1,000 suffered permanent brain damage or deafness. Today there are only about 50 measles cases a year reported in the United States, of which the majority are associated with travel overseas to countries where the measles virus is still commonly spread. The reduction in cases of measles in the US is due to high rates of measles vaccination in the US and the success of measles vaccination programs throughout North, Central, and South America.

Consequently, this illness is rarely found in Arizona. Usually only one case is confirmed every few years, typically when someone from the U.S. becomes infected while traveling overseas or someone from another country travels to the U.S. while infected with measles.