The measles are now in New Jersey, with one reported case in Jersey City.
We asked Doctor Jose Texidor, MD, a CarePoint Health Medical Group pediatrician in Hoboken, about what it all means and how you can protect your family.
Q: What is the measles?
A: The measles is a very contagious airborne respiratory illness. That means that if a person with the illness sneezes or coughs and another person is in the room or even if someone comes into the room after, they could get it. It's caused by a virus with symptoms consisting of high fever, cough, runny nose, hives, and a red spotted rash. The rash starts at the top of the head, then spreads to the rest of the body, and resolves after a few days. In severe cases it can cause pneumonia, swelling in the brain, called ecephalitis, and even death.
According to recent CDC reports for every 1,000 children who contract the disease one to two will die. For those that do contract measles, currently, the only course of action is supportive care.
Q: Who is at risk for the measles?
A: Anyone who has not been vaccinated with the Measles Mumps Rubella or the Measles Mumps Rubella Varicella vaccine is at high risk for contracting the measles. People who are immunocompromised, senior citizens, and children are all particularly susceptible. We are especially concerned about children because their immune systems aren't strong enough to fight the illness.
Q: How can parents protect their children from the measles?
A: Parents should have their children vaccinated without question! The vaccine is usually given at 12 to 15 months with a second, booster shot given at 4 to 6 years.
Q: What if the child is less than a year old?
A: The vaccine is not usually given before one year, but it can be given at 6 months. Before 6 months, an infant's immune system is protected as it receives antibodies in the womb from the mom via her placenta. If a baby is given the immunization at 6 months the regular schedule of two shots will still be necessary to fully protect the child. Children 6 months and older traveling abroad should receive a dose of measles vaccine.
Q: Does this vaccine cause autism?
A: There is no proven risk of Autism with the Measles Mumps Rubella or the Measles Mumps Rubella Varicella vaccine. Autism Speaks has very clearly stated that there is no correlation between the vaccine and Autism.
Q: What are the vaccine options?
A: The vaccine only comes in one form; it's injected. And because it is live it does not contain preservatives.
If you have any questions or would like make an appointment with Dr. Texidor, please give his office a call at (201) 479-5206.
Note: A previous version of this story stated that the case in New Jersey could be tied to the outbreak at Disney Land in California. That link has yet to be confirmed.