The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines measles as a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people around this individual could potentially become infected if they are not protected.
Measles starts with a fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, and even death.
Five cases of measles have been confirmed and reported within Harris, Montgomery and Galveston counties since the beginning of 2019. There are no reported cases of measles at the University of Houston.
Measles can be prevented. The MMR vaccine protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. The CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teenagers and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination. Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get 2 doses separated by at least 28 days.
If you suspect you have the measles, call your doctor but do not visit in person. The last thing healthcare providers want in a waiting room is a person shedding the measles virus. There can be enough virus floating in droplets in the air to infect others up to two hours after you leave. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, call an urgent clinic or telemedicine provider and stay home until somebody gives you instructions otherwise.
The MMR vaccine is available at the UH Student Health Center (SHC) for $85 per dose (no out-of-pocket cost if enrolled in the UHS endorsed Student Health Insurance Plan). Several other surrounding health care facilities and pharmacies are able to administer the vaccine as well.
A measles titer to check if one already has immunity costs $40 at our lab (no out-of-pocket cost if enrolled in the UHS endorsed Student Health Insurance Plan).