PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
If someone in your household has measles, take these precautions to protect vulnerable family and friends:
- Isolation. Because measles is highly contagious from about four days before to four days after the rash breaks out, people with measles shouldn't return to activities in which they interact with other people during this period. It may also be necessary to keep nonimmunized people — siblings, for example — away from the infected person.
- Vaccinate. Be sure that anyone who's at risk of getting the measles who hasn't been fully vaccinated receives the measles vaccine as soon as possible. This includes anyone born after 1957 who hasn't been vaccinated, as well as infants over six months old.
Preventing new infections
If you've already had measles, your body has built up its immune system to fight the infection, and you can't get measles again. Most people born or living in the United States before 1957 are immune to measles, simply because they've already had it.
For everyone else, there's the measles vaccine, which is important for:
- Promoting and preserving herd immunity. Since the introduction of the measles vaccine, measles has virtually been eliminated in the United States even though not everyone has been vaccinated. This effect is called "herd" immunity. But herd immunity may now be weakening a bit. The rate of measles in the U.S. recently doubled.
- Preventing a resurgence of measles. Soon after vaccination rates decline, measles begins to come back. In 1998, a now discredited study was published erroneously linking autism to the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. In the United Kingdom, where the study originated, the rate of vaccination dropped to an all-time low of just under 80 percent of all children in 2003 to 2004. In 2009, more than 1,100 children in the U.K. contracted measles, up from just 70 children in 2001.
- Measles. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec14/ch193/ch193b.html#sec14-ch193-ch193b-2738. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Overview of measles disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/overview.html. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Fact sheet: Measles. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/index.html. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Corrales-Medina VF, et al. Viral and rickettsial infections. In: McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2011. 50th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=17235&searchStr=measles. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Parker AA, et al. Measles (Rubeola). In: Brunette GW, et al. CDC Health Information for International Travel 2010. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2009. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2010/chapter-2/measles.aspx. Accessed April 16, 2011.
- Measles. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/vaccine-preventable-diseases/Pages/Measles.aspx. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Bekhor D, et al. Prevention and treatment of measles. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Update on measles outbreaks throughout the United States: CDC press briefing, August 21, 2008. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/media/transcripts/2008/t080808.htm. Accessed April 17, 2011.
- NHS immunisation statistics, England 2009-10. National Health Service. http://www.ic.nhs.uk/webfiles/publications/003_Health_Lifestyles/immstats0910/Immunisations_Bulletin_2009-10.pdf. Accessed April 17, 2011.
- Measles. National Health Service. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Measles/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed April 17, 2011.
- Retraction-Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. The Lancet. 2010:375:445.