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Measles: Signs, symptoms, and prevention

Public health officials across Michigan continue to monitor an increasing number of measles cases in the Southeast part of the state. While there are no current cases in Kent County, the Kent County Health Department and Helen DeVos Children's Hospital are urging vaccinations against the disease to those who aren't vaccinated or otherwise immune to measles.

Dr. William Bush, Pediatrician in Cheif at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, talks about the signs and symptoms of measles, and how to lower the risk of catching this disease.

Measles is a very contagious disease that can have lifelong health complications. Measles is spread through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. It's so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90 percent of the people close to that person will also get the disease unless they are vaccinated or immune.

A person who has had the disease in the past has been vaccinated, or who was born before 1957 is considered to be immune.

Symptoms of the measles usually appear 10-12 days after exposure. Early symptoms of the measles include fever, rash, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes. Rash and fever are the defining symptoms of measles and usually occur four days following the early symptoms. The rash generally starts on the face and proceeds down the body and can persist for several days.

Infected individuals are contagious from four days before the rash appears until four to five days after it becomes visible.

The groups of people who are most at risk of catching measles are:

  • Infants and children younger than 5 years
  • Adults 20 years or over
  • Pregnant women
  • People with compromised immune systems

People who believe that they may have been exposed to measles should limit their contact with others until a diagnosis is confirmed.

Contact your primary care physician by telephone or use Spectrum Health MedNow to consult with your provider from home.

To find a primary care physician or to learn about MedNow, visit spectrumhealth.org.

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