Do I Have Measles?

Since immunization rates in many communities are down, the recent outbreak of measles that originated in Disneyland, CA is not going to be a rare event.

We’re getting more parents in to the ER with concern that their children have been infected with measles. Thankfully, I’ve not seen a positive case yet. Generally, it’s a rash of some other origin like hives, viral rash, or strep rash.

The best way to NOT get measles is to get immunized– plain and simple.

But, here’s some information straight from the Colorado Department of Public Health about measles infection.

Measles is highly contagious. It is a viral illness meaning that antibiotics aren’t going to cure it. We can only do symptomatic support. It causes fever and a distinct rash. The incubation period is 7-21 days. An incubation period means you are infected but are not yet showing signs of illness. Measles is spread via droplets (it can live on surface areas for up to two hours) and airborne via coughing or sneezing.

Early symptoms are fever (over 101.0 F), cough, runny nose and reddened eyes.

The rash usually begins on the face after 2-4 days of the above symptoms and then spreads from the head down and outward to the limbs. The rash is red, splotchy and raised meaning you can feel it if you brush your fingers over it.

Patients who present to the emergency department should be immediately isolated and placed in negative-pressure rooms if available. A negative-pressure room sucks air into it versus pushing air out into the rest of the department. Also, the room should be cleaned and then quarantined for two hours after the patient is discharged or admitted.

Only healthcare workers who have measles immunity should care for these children.

People at risk for severe illness and complications from measles are infants less than 12 months, pregnant women who don’t have measles immunity, and those who are immunocompromised.

Go here to learn more about measles infection.

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