Several small measles outbreaks are being tracked in California where health officials warn the highly contagious virus is no joke.
It starts with typical cold or flu symptoms: fever, runny nose, sore throat, then comes the actual measles.
Dr. James Watt is Chief of the Division of Communicable Disease Control at the California Department of Public Health.
“It’s a reddish rash. It can be sort of patchy. It usually all starts at the top and works its way down. People also have other symptoms, like fever, runny nose and often red eyes, or conjunctivitis and it can be serious.” Watt said.
Late last week, officials reported 16 confirmed cases in California, six of which were in Butte, Calavaras and Tehama Counties. The rest in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
“Of all of these sort of fever and rash illnesses, measles is the most severe and also the most infectious.” he said.
Immunization is provided by two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, often abbreviated as MMR, delivered a month apart. Health officials say follow-up booster shots are unnecessary.
Watt said those with symptoms should contact their health provider to coordinate care while limiting the potential for transmission. He said people shouldn’t fear being immunized during an outbreak.
“If you get the vaccine soon enough after your exposure, the vaccine can actually prevent you from developing measles.” Watt said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 314 cases nationally. Watt said officials believe the ailment originated with someone returning from overseas travel.