JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is investigating measles exposure in Mississippi from an out-of-state traveler. The exposure happened at various locations from April 9-11.
“We are conducting a thorough investigation of the contacts we know this individual made during that timeframe. Measles is extremely contagious, with a 90 percent chance of infection from exposure if you are not protected,” said MSDH State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “So far we have not identified any cases in Mississippi, but please understand that you may have been exposed without knowing. Those who have not been vaccinated against measles need to take immediate precautions.”
If you were at any of the locations during the specified dates and times listed below, you could be potentially exposed to measles. Please make sure you and your family are up-to-date on vaccinations, monitor for symptoms, and if symptoms do appear, call your physician or local emergency room BEFORE going to make sure the facility can make proper arrangements to avoid further spread of the illness.
“The good news is that most Mississippians are protected against measles because of our strong immunization laws for school entry,” said Dr. Dobbs. “More than 99 percent of Mississippi school-aged children have received a complete dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. If you received both doses of the MMR series of vaccinations as a child, you are protected.”
Measles is a serious respiratory disease of the lungs and breathing tubes that starts with a high fever, followed soon after by a cough, runny nose, and red eyes. On the third to seventh day of illness, a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. The rash starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Symptoms usually appear about 11 days after exposure with a range of seven to 21 days.
Measles spreads when a person infected with the measles virus breathes, coughs or sneezes. It is very contagious, with the virus lingering in a room where a person with measles has been for up to two hours. Measles can be serious. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death. Young children are at higher risk for complications, especially those under 12 months old who are too young to receive the measles vaccination.
Again, if you were potentially exposed to measles at one of the locations during the specified dates and times above, make sure you and your family are up-to-date on vaccinations, monitor for symptoms, and if symptoms do appear, call your physician or local emergency room BEFORE going to make sure the facility can make proper arrangements to avoid further spread of the illness.
For more information on measles, visit HealthyMS.com/measles.
Questions and Answers about Measles
What is measles?
Measles is a serious respiratory disease (an illness of the lungs and breathing tubes) that causes a rash and fever. It is very contagious. In rare cases, it can be deadly.
What are the symptoms of measles?
Measles starts with a high fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. The rash starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death.
How does measles spread?
Measles spreads when a person infected with the measles virus breathes, coughs or sneezes. Measles is very contagious. You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, up to 2 hours after that person is gone. And you can catch measles from an infected person even before they have a measles rash. Almost everyone who has not had a measles (MMR) vaccination will get measles if they are exposed to the measles virus.
How active is measles in Mississippi?
There has not been a case of measles reported in Mississippi since 1992 thanks to our strong immunization laws. Vaccination provides excellent protection against measles. Unvaccinated adults and children, though, have a 90 percent chance of infection if exposed to measles.
Where do measles cases in the United States come from?
Every year, unvaccinated U.S. residents get measles while they are abroad and bring the disease into the country, spreading it to others. Measles is common in other parts of the world, including countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Africa. Worldwide, about 20 million people get measles each year. When people with measles travel into the United States, they can spread the disease to unvaccinated people including children too young to be vaccinated.
Make sure you are protected before international travel:
How many measles cases are there in the United States each year?
From year to year, measles cases can range from one to two hundred in the U.S. However, there are over 550 cases of measles currently reported nationwide.
I’ve been exposed to someone who has measles. What should I do?
Immediately call your doctor and let him or her know that you have been exposed to someone who has measles. Your doctor can determine if you are immune to measles based on your vaccination record, or can make special arrangements to evaluate you, if needed, without putting other patients and medical office staff at risk.
If you are not immune to measles, the MMR vaccine may help reduce your risk developing measles. Your doctor can help to advise you, and monitor you for signs and symptoms of measles.
How do I check to see if I’ve had the MMR vaccine or if my child has been vaccinated?
Talk with your doctor or check with your child’s pediatrician for their vaccination status. You may also call an MSDH county health department near you for your vaccination records. See HealthyMS.com/locations.
What if I want a measles vaccination?
The measles vaccination is available through your doctor, local pharmacy, or MSDH county health department clinic.
How effective is the measles vaccine?
The measles vaccine is very effective. One dose of measles vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus. Two doses are about 97% effective.
Do I ever need a booster vaccine?
No. The CDC considers people who received two doses of measles vaccine as children according to the U.S. vaccination schedule protected for life, and they do not need a booster dose.
Could I still get measles if I am fully vaccinated?
Very few people (about three out of 100) who get two doses of measles vaccine will still get measles if exposed to the virus. Those who are fully vaccinated and still get the measles are much more likely to have a milder illness, in addition to being less likely to spread the disease to others, including those who can’t get vaccinated because they are too young or have weakened immune systems.