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Measles: What you Need to Know

NEWS UPDATE: 2/15/15

There have been many cases of measles identified throughout California including multiple cases of measles identified in Alameda County some of which have been linked to an initial exposure at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Currently there are no cases of measles identified on the Berkeley campus.

Measles is a highly contagious vaccine preventable illness. Measles is an airborne disease that typically begins with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, and within a few days a red rash appears, usually first on the face and then spreading downward to the rest of the body.

If you have symptoms, and believe you may have been exposed, please contact your health care provider. It is best to contact your health care provider by phone to prevent spread within the healthcare facility. The best way to prevent measles and its spread is to get vaccinated with the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine.

We encourage anyone not already immunized against measles to get immunized at this time. Two doses of measles-containing vaccine (MMR vaccine) are more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles. If you are unsure of your vaccination status, check with your doctor to have a test to check for measles immunity or to receive vaccination. 

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO?
1) Assess your risk level, (2) Review your immunization records, and get the MMR vaccine if you haven't already, and 3) Watch for symptoms, stay home if you are sick and contact your health provider.


 

GENERAL FAQs -

 

WHAT IS MEASLES?
Measles is a serious, highly contagious disease caused by a virus.

 

WHO IS AT RISK?
Most people are vaccinated or have had measles before and are therefore unlikely to catch measles, even if they had contact with a contagious person. Individuals who have not had measles or the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine are at risk for measles. Health officials urge anyone who shows symptoms of measles should stay home and contact their healthcare provider. Pregnant women and those who have weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or cancer, should contact their provider if they are unsure if they have had the MMR vaccine or measles in the past.

IF YOU ARE PREGNANT OR IMMUNE COMPROMISED contact your obstetrician or healthcare provider immediately to let him or her know that you may have been exposed to measles and to find out what the next steps are for you.  Examples of immune compromised persons include people with a bone marrow transplant or on chemotherapy treatment.

IF YOU ARE NOT PREGNANT OR IMMUNE COMPROMISED, review these questions to see if you are at risk for getting measles (susceptible) or not at risk (immune):

-Did you receive at least one dose of measles vaccine in the past? This vaccine is called MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine – check your immunization records.
--Were you born after 1970, and attended US public elementary schools and did not have a personal beliefs or medical exemption to the immunization?
-Were you born before 1957?
-Have you had a blood test showing you are immune to measles?
-Did you have measles in the past?
-Did you receive a green card on or after 1996?
-Were you ever in active duty military?

If you answered YES to ANY of these questions, you are likely protected from getting measles (immune), but you would still want to watch for symptoms.

If you answered NO to ALL of these questions, you may be at risk for getting measles (susceptible) from this or future exposures. Please contact your healthcare provider.


WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
“Measles is a serious, highly contagious disease,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, health officer for the City of Berkeley. “It spreads through the air, when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”

Measles symptoms can begin one to three weeks after exposure and can include high fever, runny nose, coughing and watery red eyes. A rash develops on the face and neck two to three days after the fever begins, and spreads down the body. The rash usually lasts five or six days. An infected person is contagious for several days before and after the rash appears.


WHO CAN GET MEASLES?
Unvaccinated people exposed to measles are very likely to become sick. People who have received measles (MMR) vaccine or have had measles disease are unlikely to catch the disease, even if they were in contact with a sick person. Pregnant women and those who have weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or cancer, should contact their provider if they are unsure whether they have had MMR vaccine or measles in the past.


HOW IS MEASLES SPREAD?
Measles virus spreads through the air, when a sick person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread through contact with a sick person’s nose and throat secretions. The virus can survive in the air or on surfaces for up to two hours.


WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I HAVE MEASLES?
If you have symptoms of measles, contact your healthcare provider immediately and let them know that you might have been exposed to measles.

 

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT MEASLES? 
For more information about measles, visit the CA Dept. of Public Health and the CDC measles pages
City of Berkeley residents can call (510) 981-5300. 
Berkeley students can contact University Health Services Advice Nurse at (510) 643-7197 or secure message via eTang patient portal.

 

HOW DO I GET AN MMR VACCINE? 
Contact your healthcare provider. Berkeley students can contact University Health Services for an appointment at (510)643-7177 or schedule online through eTang (https://etang.berkeley.edu).

 

 


 

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