Measles: Why it’s serious and how to protect yourself

Measles was declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000 thanks to the success of the MMR vaccine. Yet the CDC confirmed more cases in the first three months of this year than in the entire first decade of the 2000s. 

Published 6/25/2019

Photo2_measle-baby.jpgThe measles virus causes an uncomfortable, respiratory illness, mostly in children. For some however, including the medically frail, measles can lead to death.

“Measles can cause major complications, more serious than the flu,” says Dr. Marcy Boucher of Willowbend Family Practice. “Kids don’t get their MMR vaccine until 12 months old, so you have infants, along with those who can’t be vaccinated or those with weak immune systems, who are most at risk.”

The current outbreak of measles in the U.S. is believed to have come from overseas. It has spread in areas where a significant number of children aren’t vaccinated. Because there have been so few cases for the last 20 or more years, an entire generation of physicians have never treated it before.

“We’ve never been exposed to it,” says Dr. Boucher. “Seeing it in a textbook is different from interacting with it and witnessing it in a patient.”

Dr. Boucher says the best and easiest way to protect against measles is to get vaccinated. “The safety of the MMR vaccine is very well established. Talk to your primary care provider if you have concerns or doubts.”

Learn more from the CDC