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Drew: Part III: Measles, Your Child and Your Summer Plans

By Samuetta Hill Drew

This is the final article in the series about protecting your child at home and abroad when on summer vacation. It is very important you know the facts about your travel destinations so you can protect you and your entire family. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us it is a known medical fact the measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person, who are not immune, will also become infected. An infected person can spread measles to others four days before the rash even develops.

Some have questioned if Disneyland is safe for children ages 6 to 12 months since there has been a prior outbreak? Renowned pediatrician Dr. Edgar Marcuse says, “While Disneyland was the site of exposure for what is turning out to be a remarkable number of cases, the visitors who transmitted measles and those exposed during the original cases during December have dispersed.”

Currently there are no ongoing cases. He further states, “While secondary cases are still being reported, particularly in California and some among Disneyland employees, these do not meet the criteria for an epidemic or immunization of infants 6-12 months of age.”

Remember measles is still common in other countries. Measles continues to be a common disease in many other parts of the world.  Each year around the globe, an estimated 10 million people contract the measles, and an estimated 110,000 of them die from it.

The CDC tells us that most measles cases in the U.S. result from international travel.  They recommend you make sure you and your loved ones are protected against measles before traveling internationally.

A majority of the measles cases brought into the U.S. are by unvaccinated Americans who have traveled abroad. Typically, two out of three of these cases are U.S. citizens.

They suggest the best way to protect yourself and other loved ones is by getting vaccinated. They suggest you plan to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before you depart. If your trip is less than two weeks away and you’re not protected against the measles, they recommend you should still get a dose of MMR vaccine. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) protects against all three diseases. Two doses of MMR vaccine provide 97 percent protection against measles; one dose provides 93 percent protection.

It is also best to check the measles status by calling your local health department about traveling destinations of various cities within the U.S., but especially abroad. After you have returned home watch your and your loved one’s health for about three weeks for any signs and symptoms. Remember they were a high fever, cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis), and a rash three to five days after symptoms begin. Make sure you contact the doctor immediately if you or your child gets sick and make sure you let them know of your recent travels.
Remember this summer and beyond it is always good to Keep an Eye on Safety as it relates to the measles outbreak to help protect you and your loved ones.