The measles outbreak continues to spread to additional states. Climbing past 100 cases, it’s on pace to exceed the 644 cases of measles in 2014. While vaccinations have kept the number of cases in the U.S. low, measles is common in many other countries. Now, we’re finding that many children haven’t been vaccinated. It’s been years since most Americans have had to deal with this highly contagious disease, so this is a good time for symptom and care reminders.
When I was a child, measles was one of the childhood illnesses that almost everyone experienced. By the time I became a mother, measles were all but a disease of yesteryear thanks to vaccinations. Now that we have access to more information, this is a scary childhood disease. Here are some facts.
Measles can be transmitted through the air and by respiratory droplets. The virus can live up to two hours on surfaces that an infected person has touched. This disease is so contagious that 9 out of 10 people with no immunity will contract the disease when exposed.
Children under five years of age and adults have a greater chance of complications from the measles. Typical complications include ear infections and diarrhea. Complications that are more serious include pneumonia (1 out of every 20 infected children) and swelling of the brain (1 out of every 1000 infected people).
Did you know that there’s medication that can prevent those exposed from getting the measles? If you or your children have not previously been vaccinated or had the measles, contact your doctor immediately after exposure. The preventative medication must be given in the first six days.
Here are some tips on caring for a child who has the measles:
- Medications: Measles can cause cough and a high fever, so your child may need medications to reduce those symptoms so he/she can rest better. A humidifier may also help breathing.
- Hydrate: Push water, juice or broth instead of sports or sugary drinks to help your child stay hydrated. As children heal, they feel more like eating. Try healthy soups and easily digested foods initially.
- Rest: Sleep is important to healing. Keep your child dressed comfortably in pajamas. If your child is hospitalized from complications to the measles, Patient Scrubs® are helpful garments that allow medical access to the body. At that point, it’s all about not disturbing your child any more than necessary. If your child is sensitive to light, a dim room may help him/her rest.
- Stay home: Don’t help spread the measles. Keep your child home until the fever and rash are gone (usually about 7-8 days). Find out more about measles and the outbreak on the CDC website.
The Patient Scrubs® lady hopes you and your family can avoid the measles outbreak. Wishing you and yours good health!