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Published on May 26, 2017

What You Need to Know About Measles

Man with measlesThere is a current and ongoing outbreak of measles in an area of Minnesota near Minneapolis, predominately in children age 10 and under. Though the disease has not been seen in Iowa at the time of this publication, here are some commonly asked questions about measles to help you be proactive about your health.

What is measles?

Measles is a serious and contagious respiratory disease (in the lungs and breathing tubes) that causes a rash and fever. In rare cases, it can be deadly.

How does measles spread?

Measles spreads when a person infected with the measles virus breathes, coughs or sneezes. It is very contagious. You can catch measles just by being in a room or area where a person with measles has been – up to 2 hours after that person is gone. You can also catch measles from an infected person even before he or she has measles symptoms. 

What are the symptoms?

Initial symptoms include high fever, cough, pink eye and runny nose. After three to five days of the fever’s onset, a red, blotchy rash may appear at the hairline and progress downward and outward to hands and feet.

How do you prevent measles?

The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine can protect children and adults from all three of these diseases.

Who should get the MMR vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children get two doses of the MMR vaccine:

  • First dose: 12 months to 15 months of age
  • Second dose: 4 to 6 years of age (may be given earlier, if at least 28 days after the first dose)

The CDC also recommends at least one dose of the MMR vaccine (unless the person has had all three diseases or has evidence of vaccination) for:

  • Anyone older than 18
  • Adults born after 1956

Contact your primary care provider if you have any questions about measles. Need a primary care provider? Contact Find-A-Doc at (319) 369-4444.

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