SAN ANTONIO -- The measles can be deadly. Although the numbers of cases of the disease has gone down since vaccinations began, the CDC says this year, we're already on pace to top last year's numbers.
"Measles is caused by virus, which means we don't have a way of treating it," said Dr. Sky Izaddoost with the Children's Hospital of San Antonio. She says even though doctors can't treat the measles, there is a way to prevent it with vaccines, which is what most parents get for their children to prevent measles.
"Kids should always be vaccinated at the one-year mark. That is the very first time they can get that vaccination. They can also get a booster shot between four and six years," Dr. Izaddoost said.
Because the measles virus is so contagious, getting that vaccine is of the utmost importance. "If you are in a place where somebody had measles, two hours after they've left, you still have a 94% chance of getting the measles," Dr. Izaddoost said. "The majority of people that got it this year were unvaccinated, so it's very important to get that vaccine."
Let's say a child shows up at the park with the measles rash today. Because the incubation period is 14 days, even if your child was playing with the sick youngster two weeks ago, your child could still have the measles and you wouldn't even know. "A lot of people don't know they have it, and they go around and they are spreading it to everyone else, and then they get that characteristic rash and realize, 'oh my goodness we are spreading the measles,'" Dr. Izaddoost said.
But before the rash, many other symptoms appear first. "Usually, start getting a high fever, 103,104, you get some little spots that are just on the inside of your cheek, you get pinkeye, and two or three days later you get that characteristic head to toe rash," Dr. Izaddoost said.
In the past few years, the number of measles cases in the U.S. has generally sat in the 100 to 200 range. This year, we're already up to 107. Dr. Izaddoost said, "107 doesn't seem like that big of a number, but to be so close to getting rid of this disease altogether, and then to lose it because we are not vaccinating, is devastating as doctors to see."