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Entries in measles outbreak (1)

Tuesday
Apr232013

In the News: Measles

Some of you may have heard the news this past week about a measles outbreak in North Carolina. The Raleigh News and Observer reports that there have been 7 confirmed cases: 6 in Stokes County and 1 in Orange County. Fortunately, measles is a vaccine preventable illness, so outbreaks like this are relatively infrequent; however, there’s no doubt that it causes quite the frenzy when it hits the news!

Because measles has been virtually eradicated in the United States  (there are only about 50 cases per year, most originating outside of the US), most of us have (fortunately!) never come in contact with a measles case. Since we don’t hear much about it anymore, here’s a quick refresher course:

  • Measles (also known as rubeola) is caused by a respiratory virus
  • The virus is very contagious and is spread by respiratory secretions (sneezing, coughing, etc). It can also live on surfaces for up to 2 hours, and can be transmitted that way as well
  • Symptoms generally include fever, cough, congestion, red eyes, and general fatigue/not feeling well to start; after 3-5 days, a red rash starts on the head and spreads down the body. There also may be spots that appear in the mouth.
  • Symptoms generally resolve on their own without medication
  • The biggest risk (and cause of deaths) from measles is the risk of getting another infection on top of the virus – ear infection, pneumonia, etc.

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