Measles 2019 Update

Karen Swecker, RN, MedFlight Infection Control Liaison

Per the CDC, there were 1276 confirmed cases of measles in 31 states.  The outbreak has finally slowed down but cases may still occur.

  • Majority of cases were in unvaccinated people
  • 124 people were hospitalized
  • 61 reported complications including pneumonia and encephalitis
  • Ohio reported 1 case of measles in an adult that was unvaccinated and traveled to a state with confirmed measles cases
  • If you are unvaccinated you have a 90% risk of being infected just being in the room with a measles patient
  • Measles can live up to 2 hours in the air where an infected person coughed or sneezed
  • You can contract the measles via airborne or contact with contaminated surfaces
  • People are infectious 4 days before to 4 days after the rash appears
  • 1 out of 20 children with the measles will get pneumonia (most common cause of measles related death)
  • 1 out of 1000 children with measles will develop encephalitis
  • 1 to 3 out of 1000 children infected with measles will die from respiratory or neurologic complications

The Threat Continues

In December the CDC received reports of measles infected persons traveling through at least 5 separate airports – Chicago O’Hare, Austin-Bergstrom Airport in Texas, Richmond International in Virginia, and the airport in Denver and LAX.

The known measles infected travelers included a person who traveled in Europe in late November and 3 infectious children visiting from New Zealand.  Typical time between exposure and symptoms is between 7 to 14 days.

As a reminder, the symptoms include: high fever, cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes, the rash typically begins 3 to 5 days after the first symptoms.

Skin of a patient after three days of a measles infection.