An interview with Vibrant Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kelly Kreisler.
Why are we talking about measles today? Do people in Kansas City still get measles?
We often think of measles as ancient history. Because the MMR vaccination is so effective, measles had become very rare in the U.S. Unfortunately, more caregivers are choosing to follow unproven alternative vaccine schedules or not get their child vaccinated at all, leading to more measles cases.
There is currently an outbreak of measles in the Kansas City area. Measles is extremely contagious (much more contagious than the flu)! If you are in the room with a person who has the measles and you are not immune to measles, you have a 90% chance of catching the measles. Measles can be transmitted up to 4 days before and 4 days after rash develops, which means a person might be spreading measles without knowing they are sick. It can be spread by simply breathing the same air as someone who has the measles.
What are the signs and symptoms of measles? How would I know if my child, or I, have measles?
If you have been vaccinated or have had measles in the past, it is extremely unlikely that you will get measles now, unless you have a problem with your immune system.
Signs and symptoms begin 1 to 2 weeks after exposure. The most common signs and symptoms of measles are: high fever; blotchy rash on the skin, which spreads from the head to the trunk then to the lower extremities 3 to 5 days after symptoms begin; cough; runny nose; red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis); and tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik’s spots).
What should I do if I suspect we might be exposed to measles?
Call your health care provider if you suspect you or your child has measles! It is important that a possibly ill person not go out in public, including to the doctor’s office without calling ahead. Your doctor’s office will give you specific instructions to avoid infecting others.
How can I prevent measles in my children and family?
Vaccination according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Recommended Schedule will protect your children and family against many vaccine preventable diseases, including measles. According to the schedule, children will receive the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine at 12 to 15 months old and again at 4 to 6 years of age.
I recommend getting your child vaccinated at their doctor’s office. There are many other important screenings and tests that are done at these ages. Finding a doctor’s office that is a one stop shop for all of your families’ health needs can help make sure your child receives timely access to all of the care recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics Bright Futures.
Also, it’s important to know that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism! I started my residency right after a British study with falsified data was published (incorrectly) linking MMR to autism. Prior to the study’s publication, the U.S. had a highly immunized population. The study has since been retracted and millions of dollars spent across multiple studies to prove there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Unfortunately, after the incorrect information was published, vaccination rates began to drop and measles cases increased.
When at least 90% of the population is vaccinated, it protects children who are too young to be vaccinated and immunocompromised individuals, like people on chemotherapy. By getting vaccinated on time, you are not only helping your child, you are helping protect vulnerable individuals who can’t receive the vaccine.
What else should I know?
Talk with your friends and daycare providers to find out if children are vaccinated. If your child is too young to be vaccinated, you may not want them to spend time around unvaccinated children or adults.
Measles can be a serious disease with up to 30% of infected individuals developing a complication, so it’s important to receive the MMR vaccine.
If you or your child need the MMR vaccine, call one of our clinics to schedule an appointment: 913-342-2552. We’d love to help keep your family healthy!