Measles is one of the world’s most easily spread diseases. Fifty years after the approval of a very effective vaccine against measles, the virus still carries a danger to local and world-wide health safety due to people not getting vaccinated. So far in 2014 there have been 2 people sick with measles in Wisconsin alone, both connected to overseas travel.
Measles is spread through the air we breathe. It is very contagious. A person with measles can spread the disease even before they know they have it. A person can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even after that person is gone. So it is important that everyone is vaccinated regardless if planning to travel; you never know when you could be exposed.
“A measles outbreak anywhere is a risk everywhere,” said Mindy Schwarz, Public Health Nurse for Lincoln County. “Prevention through vaccination is a wise investment in a person’s health.”
Before the U.S. vaccination program started in 1963, measles was a year-round danger in this country. Nearly every child became ill and each year 450 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, 7,000 developed seizures, and about 1,000 suffered long lasting brain damage or deafness.
Measles is still a worldwide threat, and outbreaks of measles are increasing in unvaccinated U.S. residents. For many years, there have been about 60 ill people with measles per year in the United States, but in 2013 there were over 175 ill people, nearly all connected to people who brought measles home after traveling outside the United States.
Measles vaccination is recommended for anyone born after January 1st 1957; those born before 1957 are considered protected. Some individuals may need one dose of Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) while others need two. Call your health care provider or the Lincoln County Health Department at 715-536-0307 to see if you need this vaccine.