Measles 101: What it is, who it attacks and how to stop it


With all the hype about measles floating around (two confirmed cases in Las Vegas and six pending), it’s hard to know what’s true. We caught up with Joseph Iser, chief health officer at Southern Nevada Health District, to get facts on the contagious respiratory infection.

Measles are airborne. Illness sets in within a week of exposure and is contagious four days before and four days after the rash appears. Complications include inflammation of the spinal cord, encephalitis and meningitis, though most survive.

Infants and those who cannot be vaccinated for health or allergy reasons are most at risk. Babies become eligible for shots at 12-15 months. The best way to protect them is to make sure everyone in the home is vaccinated, Iser says.

Can you get measles if you’ve been vaccinated? It’s possible, but unlikely. “In the average person it’s 95-96 percent effective after one dose,” Iser says. “After the second dose it’s 99 percent effective.”

But guess what! If you think you’ve been exposed, it’s possible to get the vaccine and still dodge the illness. “We really, really recommend that everyone be vaccinated,” Iser says. “I can tell you that I’m old enough to have gotten all of the childhood diseases, and I can guarantee that having the disease is far worse than having the shot to prevent it.”

Tags: Opinion, Health
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