Physicians should expect to be asked about the measles outbreak, and what patients can do to protect themselves and their children.
The United States is currently experiencing the worst outbreak of measles since 1994. The surging number of cases for the disease means patients have questions, and many are turning to their primary care doctors for answers. Physicians should expect to be asked about the outbreak, and what patients can do to protect themselves and their children.
Here are 6 things that physicians need to know about the measles outbreak.
1. How bad is it?
764 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 23 states. The states with the worst outbreaks are:
2. Why has measles spread?
According to the CDC:
3. What are the signs and symptoms of measles?
The symptoms of measles generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected.
Measles typically begins with
4. Do adult patients need a measles booster?
The CDC’s vaccine recommendations are:
Children: CDC recommends routine childhood immunization with the MMR vaccine starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age, or at least 28 days following the first dose.
Students at post-high school educational institutions: Students without evidence of measles immunity need two doses of MMR vaccine, with the second dose administered no earlier than 28 days after the first dose.
Older adults: Patients born during or after 1957 who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.
5. What should I do if I suspect a patient has measles?
If you suspect a patient has measles, ask about their:
Physicians should report suspected measles cases to the local health department immediately. Laboratory confirmation is essential for all sporadic measles cases and all outbreaks. Physicians will need to obtain both a serum sample and a throat swab (or nasopharyngeal swab) from patients suspected to have measles at first contact with them. Urine samples may also contain the virus.
6. How can I improve patient immunization rates at my practice?
Here are some tips from the CDC: