This month, the first case of measles was reported in Virginia, and it has been seen in 28 states to date in 2019. We wanted to provide an update for all APS families about measles prevention, signs and symptoms as we prepare for the 2019-20 School Year.
Currently, over 99% of APS students are fully vaccinated against measles. Measles is a virus that spreads very easily. If one person has measles, 9 out of 10 people around him or her will get it, if they are not immune. Given how quickly and easily it spreads, any student or staff member who may have been exposed to measles and who does not have documented immunity will be excluded from school for up to 21 days to prevent the spread.
Please review the information below and talk to your healthcare provider over the summer to ensure your student’s immunizations are up-to-date and documented.
HOW DOES MEASLES SPREAD?
Measles spreads easily when a sick person coughs or sneezes. You can catch measles by breathing contaminated air or touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus can stay in the air and make you sick for up to 2 hours after someone with measles has left the room. Measles had nearly disappeared in the U.S. due to the measles vaccine, but the disease is common in many parts of the world. In 2019, there have already been the largest number of measles cases in the U.S. in 25 years. Recent outbreaks have been linked to unvaccinated travelers bringing the disease from other countries, with measles then spreading in communities with large numbers of unvaccinated children.
WHAT ARE MEASLES SYMPTOMS?
Common symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat, and red, watery eyes. After 3–7 days of these symptoms, a red rash develops that usually begins on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body. A person with measles can spread the disease 4 days before the rash appears until 4 days after. Some people, especially very young children who have not yet been vaccinated, are at high risk for serious complications. These include lung infection (pneumonia), brain inflammation (encephalitis), deafness, and even death.
HOW CAN I PREVENT MEASLES?
The best way to prevent measles is by getting vaccinated! The vaccine provides protection against 3 diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). The MMR vaccine is proven to be very safe and effective. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children get one dose of MMR between 12 and 15 months, and a second dose between 4 and 6 years. Children, teenagers and adults who have not been vaccinated and have no documented evidence of ever having measles should also get the MMR vaccine, including before traveling outside the United States.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EXCLUSION
- Student with suspected measles should stay out of school until cleared by health care provider to return to school
- Student is contagious up to 4 days after onset of rash
- Any student/staff who does not have documented immunity to measles who may have been exposed
- For 21 days after exposure to measles case (this is the incubation period for measles)
- During this time, excluded student or staff member should do the following:
- Stay at home – must not be in any public places
- Contact healthcare provider about possible measles symptoms before going to office, clinic, urgent care or hospital
WHAT CAN FAMILIES DO?
- Check your student’s immune status to ensure that they are measles immune. If you don’t know, schedule an appointment to check
- Be aware of your immune status and obtain a written copy of your vaccine record
- Be aware of the symptoms of measles and notify the clinic staff any time your student displays symptoms consistent with measles
- Notify the clinic immediately if your child has suspected or diagnosed measles
- If you aren’t vaccinated – it’s not too late. Vaccines are the best protection against measles!
HOW CAN I GET THE MMR VACCINE?
- Contact your healthcare provider.
- Come to one of Arlington County Public Health Division’s weekly walk-in clinics. Visit https://health.arlingtonva.us/public-health/health-clinics-services/immunization-clinic/ for more information about times, locations, and costs.
This is the current recommendations. If something changes, we will update you.
If you have any questions about measles, check with your healthcare provider.
General information on measles from the CDC, including information on immunization and international travel, is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html.