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Measles: Know What to Look For

A new outbreak of measles is on the rise in the United States. In April 2019, there were a reported 695 cases of measles just this year. That's a huge increase from 2000 when the CDC declared the U.S. measles-free.

During this high rise, it's important to know what to look for to ultimately keep yourself safe. Measles symptoms are quite tricky as they can fool you to think you have a simple cold or even the flu. For the best way to keep yourself out of the Emergency Room and safe from the measles is to continue reading and learn all the signs, symptoms, and know when it's time to visit the ER.

The Seriousness of Measles

Because we haven't experienced such a large outbreak of the disease in so long, many of us don't understand the seriousness of measles. This is especially true for the younger crowd. Measles is a serious disease.

For adults, contracting the measles may lead to severe respiratory problems. And it's potentially deadly. For children, it's even more detrimental and causes brain damage, deafness, pneumonia, and of course, possibly death.


Because the United States cleared itself from the disease in the 2000s, it's believed that the disease made its way back into the states by people who traveled internationally and then brought it back. The measles is an extremely contagious disease that spreads through the air.

It's so contagious that if one person has the disease, then 90% of anyone around them who isn't immune will end up contracting it as well. When an infected person sneezes, coughs, or even talks, the virus enters the air and remains active there or on surfaces for several hours.


There are several reasons why you might be at a higher risk of infection with measles than someone else. You'll find these risk factors listed below.

  • Vitamin A Deficiency- Not having enough Vitamin A could cause you to have more complications or symptoms with the disease
  • Traveling Internationally- As stated before, traveling internationally is how the disease made its way back into the states and is where you'll come into contact with it the most
  • Not Receiving Vaccinations- Not receiving your measles vaccination will put you at a much greater risk for contracting the disease

For those wanting to protect themselves from the measles, it's important to know if you are at risk. Check in with your medical records to ensure you received a vaccination, check your Vitamin A levels, and always be prepared before traveling overseas.

Measles Symptoms

The symptoms of measles could seem like something less severe. This is why it's always necessary to take the proper precautions and always keep an eye on all symptoms. Here are some measles symptoms to look out for.

  • Sore Throat
  • Runny Nose
  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Conjunctivitis
  • White spots with bluish centers found at the back of the mouth and cheeks
  • Rash of flat red blotches

More Serious Symptoms

Measles can show more severe symptoms, which include the following:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Chronic pneumonia
  • Brain infections (headaches, coma, seizures)
  • Brain damage
  • Deafness
  • Blindness

One scary thing about the measles is that you could have it for 10-14 days before any symptoms show. This is the disease incubation time.

Measles Rash

The best way to notice a rash caused by the measles is to look near the hairline for flat red spots. These blotches will spread down from the hairline to the neck, arms, legs, and eventually to the feet. In some cases, small red bumps rise on top of the red flat spots.

The face normally breaks out first and because the red blotches form in clusters, it'll give the appearance of splotchy red skin. Over several days is when it will make its way through the lower part of the body and then fade starting with the face.

When It Starts

As stated before, a person is infected with the disease for 10-14 days before any signs or symptoms appear. If you or someone you know is experiencing measle symptoms, anyone who they've been in contact with over the past week is at risk.

Measles Prevention

The best way to prevent a measles outbreak is to get vaccinated. This is especially true if someone you know has been diagnosed with the disease. Infants can now be vaccinated after just 6 months, and it's highly advised to do so.

It's normally given to an infant at 12-15 months, however, if you're traveling internationally or have someone close to you who is infected, speak to your doctor immediately. If someone does have the disease, they should be kept isolated from others.

This is even more important when dealing with other people who have not received the vaccine. Even after the symptoms have cleared and an infected person begins to feel better, this does not mean that they are no longer contagious. An infected person remains contagious for up to four days after all symptoms are relieved.

When It's Time to Seek Help

If you believe that you, a family member, or someone you know has been exposed to measles, then it's time to seek help. Having a visible rash that resembles the measles description shouldn't be ignored. This is a serious disease that can result in death and harm many others around the infected person.

Whenever in doubt, do not hesitate to contact us directly and make your way to our 24-hour emergency center. We even offer pediatric emergency services for your little ones. You won't regret making the decision to come in and give yourself peace of mind.