Important Health Update: Measles Prevention
With recent reports of measles in the Memphis, Tenn. area, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi encourages individuals to take care when traveling or visiting with those who have been in affected areas.
Measles symptoms begin with a fever, followed by a cough, runny nose and red eyes; then, a rash of tiny, red spots starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body.
The measles virus is highly contagious and spreads through droplets in the air that can linger. Infected people can also spread measles before developing the telltale rash. Measles can be serious in children younger than five, sometimes causing pneumonia, brain swelling and even death.
The Mississippi State Department of Health and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi are strongly recommending that Mississippi children 12 months of age or older who are behind on measles vaccination call their Network Primary Care Provider immediately.
“Measles is literally knocking at our back door. This is a highly contagious, airborne disease and is easily spread from person to person. Unvaccinated individuals are highly susceptible to infection. This is a potentially deadly virus; infants and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk,” said Mississippi’s State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs.
Being vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and those around you, particularly those who can’t get the vaccine. If you are not certain if you have been vaccinated, a blood test can determine if you should receive a measles-mumps-rubella (M.M.R.) shot. Most infants are not vaccinated until 12 months of age per CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines.
If you are a parent or guardian of a child under 12 months of age,
- Be certain that you and eligible family members (siblings one year and older, grandparents, etc.) or caregivers have been vaccinated. Ensuring everyone in the family is immune is the best way to protect children younger than 12 months.
- Use good judgment in public places or when traveling with an infant, especially in areas where measles has been reported.
Talk to your Primary Care Network Provider to determine if you or a family member needs to be vaccinated and call your Network Provider immediately if you observe symptoms as described above.
More information from the Shelby County Health Department in Tennessee, including locations where exposure may have occurred, is available on the Shelby County Health Department website.
Learn more about measles from the CDC.