Prevent Measles from Affecting Your Child

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Growing up in the 50's, childhood diseases seemed unavoidable. For example, all my siblings experienced chickenpox and one of my neighbors was affected by polio. Then vaccinations became more available to families for prevention of disease and illness like the chickenpox, hepatitis and flu. Vaccinations help make a child’s world safe from life-threatening disease and promote health.

When I was a child, measles seemed to be a non-serious disease with cute red spots. However, measles can make your child really sick, and even though there is a vaccine, there is a measles outbreak right now because many parents are refusing vaccinations for their child. Even travelers can spread the measles virus because of little to no vaccinations in other countries. When I learned of this, it inspired me to find out more. So I partnered with Jeffrey Bender, MD, medical director in the Division of Infectious Disease at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, because I want to shed light on measles and provide ways you can help keep your family safe and healthy.

Measles Facts

  • Up to three children out every one thousand who get measles will die.
  • Complications can occur that make children very sick such as pneumonia, loss of brain function and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
  • Babies are more at risk for measles because they cannot be vaccinated until their first birthday.measles
  • Measles cases are more severe in adolescents.
  • There is no treatment for measles, which is why vaccinating your child is important.

Measles Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms will begin to appear five to ten days after your child is exposed to measles. 

First Signs and Symptoms

  • Coughing
  • Fever, which can be very high (around 103-104 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Loss of appetite
  • Red eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Tiredness

Secondary Signs and Symptoms (two to four days after first signs and symptoms)

  • A rash of tiny red spots (sometimes bumpy) start on the face and head and may appear in the mouth and spread across the body

Who is Most at Risk for Measles?

  • Those with a compromised immune system.
  • Healthcare workers
  • Teachers and day care workers
  • Students
  • Persons who refuse vaccinations
  • Tourists or travelersbaby being vaccinated

Prevention of Measles

There are two vaccinations your child will need to prevent measles. The first vaccination will be given to your child at 12 to 15 months. The second vaccination will be given when your child is between the ages of four and six. Getting your child vaccinated is a leap toward preventing serious illness so they can do what they do best—being a happy, healthy kid.

"Get your child vaccinated. Los Angeles is an international city with people visiting from all over the world. Measles spreads very quickly and easily through unvaccinated populations and can be devastating," shares Dr. Bender, physician in our Division of Infectious Disease.

Measles Treatment

There is currently no treatment for measles, but your child’s physician may do some of the following if they become sick:

  • Prescribe medicine for fever, pain and cough
  • Prescribe antibiotics for infection from scratching the rash
  • Provide intravenous fluids
  • Recommend bed rest
  • Recommend frequent lukewarm baths for the fever and itchiness

Observe for signs of sudden fever, headache, vomiting, drowsiness, convulsions or coma which may signal encephalitis which is inflammation in the brain,

  • Changes in behavior or level of consciousness such as seizure activity or drowsiness as that may be a sign of encephalitis.
  • Symptoms of breathing difficulty because complications may occur, such as pneumonia.
  • Require that your child stay away from others since it is contagious from the droplets from coughing.

Prevention is the goal. Please talk to your healthcare provider about the value and importance of vaccinations for the health of everyone in your community and your world.