Eastern Illinois University Health Service Measles Advisory
Measles is a contagious viral infection. It can cause serious illness and death but it is very preventable with appropriate vaccination.
Currently, the United States is experiencing a large, multi-state outbreak of measles. Most of the cases of measles have been linked to an amusement park in California. A majority of the associated cases were unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination status. Illinois has now confirmed more than ten cases of measles in the Chicago area.
Symptoms of measles include:
- Fever, AND
- Cough, runny nose, or conjunctivitis, AND
- Generalized rash
- Spots in the mouth which are white with bluish-white centers (Koplik spots) may also appear
Complications of measles include:
- Ear infections
- Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected. The virus can remain in the air or on contaminated surfaces for up to two hours after an infected individual leaves a location. A person with the measles virus is contagious 4 days before the appearance of the rash and up to 4 days after the appearance of rash. The incubation period (time between exposure and symptoms) ranges between 7 to 21 days.
The best way to be protected against measles is to get vaccinated with two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella shot (the MMR vaccine). Children should receive one dose between 12 through 15 months of age and the second dose between 4 to 6 years of age. Adults who need vaccination should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine administered at least 28 days apart.
Patients who present to Health Service with above symptoms will be evaluated for measles. Patients with symptoms of fever and rash should notify Health Service by phone before presenting to the clinic. In addition to symptoms of measles, most people will have had a history of exposure to a confirmed case of measles or will have traveled or had contact with visitors from areas where cases have been reported.
Health Service is monitoring the situation and encourages the EIU community to watch for updates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Additional updates will be provided as necessary.