Many parents are concerned about the recent measles outbreak in Utah County. We share your concern and have put together the following information sheet to provide some answers.
How many cases of measles are there?
There are two confirmed cases of measles in Utah County. Two siblings were exposed to the disease during a visit to Disneyland in mid-December. They are part of a larger outbreak being investigated in California.
If not contained, the disease can spread rapidly. Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is easily transmitted through coughing or sneezing. Unvaccinated individuals have a 90 percent chance of getting the measles if they come in close contact with somebody who is infected.
What do I do if I think I have been exposed?
Public health officials are looking for people who might have come in contact with the two infected individuals in order to contain the outbreak as quickly as possible. The two Utah County cases would have been contagious from December 27, 2014 to January 5, 2015. During that time they visited several places in Provo and Orem.
To find out if you may have been exposed, visit the Utah Department of Health’s online measles assessment. On the site is a list of places where people may have been exposed.
If you have been exposed or believe that you might have been exposed, call the health department right away at 800-456-7707.
Is my child fully vaccinated?
The measles vaccine is highly effective and is the best way to protect your family and others.
Please review your family’s immunization status to make sure you are all up to date on your vaccines. If not, call your pediatrician so that you can get caught up right away. To be fully vaccinated your child will need two doses of the MMR vaccine. The first is given between 12 and 15 months of age, and the second is given between 4 and 6 years old.
How serious is the measles?
Measles can be serious and even deadly for young children or people with weakened immune systems. Thirty to fifty percent of people who get the measles are hospitalized for complications. Measles can also cause a miscarriage, stillbirth, or pre-term delivery in pregnant women.
Although infants are at the greatest risk, they are not old enough to receive the MMR vaccine. That is why it is so important for others in the community to be vaccinated. Parents with children who are not fully vaccinated should avoid places or events where their children might be exposed.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of the measles include fever, cough, runny nose, and a red rash that starts on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body. A person can be contagious before the rash develops, with the rash appearing within two weeks of exposure.
If you believe you or a family member has the measles, call your doctor before visiting the hospital or doctor’s office. They will need to take steps to help protect others from exposure before your visit. Also avoid public places or contact with others.