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Posted on: May 15, 2019

Current Measles Outbreak in Orange County

measles signs and symptoms image

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease (in the lungs and breathing tubes) caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people (when a person infected with the measles virus breathes, coughs, or sneezes). Measles is one of the most contagious viruses on earth; one measles infected person can give the virus to 18 others. In fact, 90% of unvaccinated people exposed to the virus become infected. You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, up to 2 hours after that person is gone. And you can catch measles from an infected person even before they have a measles rash. 

Symptoms usually appear 10-12 days after exposure but may appear as early as 7 days and as late as 21 days after exposure. Measles typically begins with

  • high fever,
  • cough,
  • runny nose (coryza), and
  • red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis).

Then:

  • Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth.
  • Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body. When the rash appears, a person's fever may go up to more than 104° Fahrenheit.
  • After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.

People are considered infectious from four days before to four days after the appearance of the rash.

Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. Others who are at high risk for complications if they get the measles include pregnant women who are not immune, as well as those who are immune-compromised or immunosuppressed (when your body can't fight disease). 

Measles Vaccine Recommendations:

Two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended for maximum protection. One dose of the MMR vaccines can offer 93% protection from the measles. Two doses of the MMR vaccine can offer 97% protection from the measles. Typically, the first dose of MMR vaccine is given at 12-15 months of age and the second dose is given at four to six years of age (age of school entry), although individuals may also be vaccinated later in life.

Due to the current measles outbreak in Orange County, the Orange County Department of Health recommends the following:

  • Children 6-11 months of age who are traveling outside of the country should receive one dose of MMR vaccine prior to international travel (this dose will not count towards the two doses needed to attend school)
  • All children ≥12 months of age should receive one dose of MMR, ideally between 12-15 months of age
  • A second dose of MMR should be given to children between 4 and 6 years of age (typically before entering kindergarten) but can be given as soon as 28 days after the first dose 
  • Any adult who has not received their first MMR vaccine or do not have proof of measles immunity yet should get their first MMR vaccine now
  • Two appropriately spaced doses are recommended for health care personnel, college students and any international travelers

There may be medical reasons not to get the MMR vaccine, speak to your health care provider.

For more information about vaccine safety and efficacy, please see the most up to date information from the CDC here.

Information for Health Care Providers

  • The Orange County Department of Health is asking all health care providers to immediately report all cases of suspect measles to the Orange County Department of Health by calling (845) 291-2330 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Health Care Providers can call this number for additional information.
  • Please see our most recent Public Health Alert for additional information here
  • For more information on all other communicable diseases, please visit our Health Care professionals page in our resources section of the website here
  • CDC Information for Health Care ProvidersOpens a New Window. 



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