PALATINE, Ill. -- What do we need to know about the measles now that the outbreak has hit close to home?
Measles is highly contagious. 90% of people who are just in the same room with someone who has measles will get it if they are not vaccinated.
After 1963 virtually everyone was vaccinated and that vaccine is considered 99 % effective. In this country, we went from millions of cases per year and about 500 deaths to wiping out the measles threat.
But with the prevalence of people choosing not to vaccinate their children and foreign unvaccinated travelers, this disease is rearing its ugly head again.
At the height of infection, a rash will cover the body. But even before the rash shows up – a person is contagious - -and the initial symptoms are just like the common cold.
It can take 1-3 weeks for symptoms to occur after exposure, but during that time a person can spread the measles virus. Those most at risk are babies who have not had their first shot – the Measles, Mumps, Rubella or MMR vaccine is first introduced at 12 months then again at 15 months.
More than 100 people have contracted the measles in this latest outbreak – but so far no deaths. Doctors say measles moves to pneumonia quickly and getting medical attention for respiratory illnesses that accompany measles is the key to surviving.
As for the vaccine fears that have parents opting not to get the shot for their kids, doctors say the MMR vaccine is safe and effective.
In Illinois the vaccine is mandatory for any student to enter school. The only way for people to opt out is based on religious exemption. But nearby states like Wisconsin, Missouri and Michigan allow people to forego the vaccines for philosophical reasons.