What you need to know about measles

mott blog - measles symptoms preventionMeasles was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, but in recent years we have seen measles reappear primarily as a result of people bringing the virus to the U.S. from other countries. During the last decade, we have seen approximately 100 cases of measles per year in the U.S. However, in 2014, there were 644 cases reported, and already this year there have been over 100 cases.  Many of this year’s cases are connected to a large, multi-state outbreak linked to an amusement park in California. To date, there has been one case in Michigan (an adult). With all the news stories about measles, it’s easy to be concerned, but knowing the facts can ease your mind.


The measles vaccine is given as a combination vaccine with mumps and rubella. The first MMR vaccine is given between 12 and 15 months of age. Ninety-five percent of children vaccinated at 12 months develop antibodies to measles and 98 percent of those vaccinated at 15 months develop antibodies. A second MMR vaccine is given between 4 and 6 years of age. People who have received two doses of the measles vaccine are more than 99 percent immune from measles. So, if you and your children have been vaccinated, there’s very little reason for concern.

If an adult was born before 1957, the CDC considers them immune to measles. If you were born after 1957 and have not been vaccinated, discuss the MMR vaccine with your healthcare provider. If a child was not vaccinated during the suggested vaccination timeframe, discuss vaccinations with your healthcare provider. It’s never too late to vaccinate and build up the immunities to measles and other illnesses.


measles resources from the aapIf you or someone you know have not been vaccinated or have a weakened immune system, look for these symptoms of measles:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Conjunctivitis (Inflamed eyes)
  • Rash that starts near the hairline

If you have symptoms, contact your healthcare provider and tell them you may have symptoms of measles. This will allow them to take precautions to prevent potentially spreading the illness if a diagnosis of measles is made.

Because measles is extremely contagious, taking precautions to avoid the spread of the illness is very important. Any time someone is diagnosed with measles, the health department is notified and works to identify those who may have been exposed to prevent further spread of the disease. With vaccinations and precautions, we can minimize the spread of measles.

Take the next steps:

Terri Stillwell MDTerri Stillwell, MD, serves as an Associate Hospital Epidemiologist carrying out various roles for infection control and prevention in Mott Children’s Hospital. She is also an active member in the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, as well as the Pediatric and Infectious Diseases Communities of Practice for the American Society of Transplantation.


best children's hospitalsUniversity of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.