Measles – Should You Be Worried

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MeaslesIf you’ve been watching or reading the News lately you’ve probably seen the coverage about the growing numbers of Measles cases.

It started with a few cases at Disney in California and has grown from there to New York and recently cases in a day care in Illinois.

While this is a disease that usually affects just children it can still infect anyone who isn’t properly immunized or that has a natural immunity because they already had an infestation.

Even though the total numbers of cases are still small the fact that this disease, declared just a little over a decade ago as defeated in the U.S. , is suddenly making any comeback at all should be a real concern to anyone who reads about it.

Measles is Highly Contagious

Something like this is one of my big worries for a potential disaster.

This disease is easily one of the most contagious known to man.  And even though most people who get sick from this virus recover, there are still a lot of people of all ages for whom this disease will have serious side effects or even cause death.

The worst part is that it can be contagious even before the person who is getting sick knows they are ill.

Depending upon who you want to listen to it can be anywhere from four days to as many as 18 days before any symptoms shows up during which time the person can still be contagious to others.

Then, even when someone does start to get sick, it will seem like the flu for a another few days before the tell-tale itchy splotches start to show up, first on the face, then spreading to the rest of the body.

How Is Measles Spread

Anyone who is near to a person who is sick with Measles can easily get sick.

The virus that causes this disease lives in the nose and throat.  So when an infected person sneezes, or even talks the virus is being spread around.

Once sneezed the virus can linger in the air for several minutes before settling on any surfaces in the area.

Anyone who touches these fluids can also transfer them to other surfaces as well.

There it can survive for up to two hours, making it possible to catch the disease by just touching a surface with virus.

How Measles Gets In Your Body

If you touch any surfaces like door handles or counters while the virus is still alive left by someone who is infected you can not only become infected but you can even pass it to others.

The virus can enter your body by you breathing it in if someone who is infected sneezes, coughs, or is talking to you, expelling the virus in your direction.

You can also pick it up by touching a surface with live virus then touching your mouth or rubbing your eyes.

Complications From Measles

Although the vast majority of people who get sick will heal with no problems there is the possibility that there could be complications.

This is especially true with anyone who is immuno compromised or has other problems.

Measles can be a serious in all age groups.   However, children that are younger than 5 and adults that are older than 20 years of age are the ones that are most likely to suffer from measles complications.

Common Complications

Common measles complications can often include things like ear infections and diarrhea.  Although diarrhea is rare an ear infection can happen in as many as 1 out of 10 and could result in permanent hearing loss.

Severe Complications

More severe complications that can happen are pneumonia (infection of the lungs) or encephalitis (a swelling of the brain).

They complications can require hospitalization and could even result in death.

  • As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
  • About one child out of every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or mentally retarded.
  • For every 1,000 children who get measles, its possible that one or two will die from it.

How To Avoid Getting Measles

I suppose that you could avoid this disease, or any other that could be passed from human to human by avoiding people and never getting close to anyone.

But for those of us that choose or need to live in urban areas that is just not possible or practical.

So here are some steps that might help you avoid this virus:

Make Sure and Get Vaccinated

Yeah sure there are always going to be concerns about vaccines being a bigger problem than the disease that they are trying to treat.

But the fact is that the world is a lot better and healthier than it was because of vaccines.

That being said, even if you have been vaccinated it is only about 95% effective.  And Doctors are finding that if you are an adult that had a vaccination as a child, it could have weakened over time.

So know what vaccines that you and you family need to get, then get them and make sure they are up to date!

Avoid Anyone Who Is Sick

Bottom line is that people who are sick can make you sick.  Still – this can be hard if not impossible to accomplish.

You might have a member of your family that has contracted Measles and needs to be taken care of and like I said earlier in this article, you might not even know that a person is contagious.

They might not even know it.  But if they are sick be cautious.

Practical Steps

If someone coughs or sneezes near you try holding your breath as long as you can to avoid breathing in any viruses.

If you don’t mind looking contagious yourself get and wear medical grade face masks when you go outside or are in areas with a lot of people.

You should wash your hands often and try to avoid touching your mouth or eyes with them between washes.  When you wash your hands lather them thoroughly including under the nails.  One way to make sure that you wash them enough is to sing (under your breath of course!) two verses of the song – Happy Birthday.

Avoid using public restrooms if you can.  Or if you must make sure that you have a sanitizer spray for the stool,  wash your hands thoroughly, and use paper towels to shut off the water faucet and to open the door when you exit the bathroom.

Make sure to avoid any body fluids of another like saliva, sweat, nasal mucus, blood, semen, vaginal secretions.


While most of us can avoid Measles with a few simple common sense steps and a vaccination there are some for whom this won’t work.

Or even worse, there is always the chance that this highly contagious disease could morph into something more deadly.

This means that it is important to make sure to know what we need to do in case of an outbreak like Measles or something worse.

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