Measles can be a serious and life threatening illness. As a public health measure and in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, the University requires verification of measles (Rubeola) immunity for all students born after December 31, 1956. You may not be permitted to register for courses without proof of measles (Rubeola) immunity at the Gonzaga University Health Center.
Proof of immunity means:
- Two doses of measles (Rubeola) vaccine received after one year of age, at least one month apart, or
- A blood test showing measles (Rubeola) immunity, or
- Diagnosed measles (Rubeola) disease (health care provider's signature required).
Acceptable documentation is (copies only, please keep your originals):
- School Certificate of Immunization, or
- Official immunization records from your health care provider or public health department, or
- Copy of your immunization card, or
- Copy of your military immunization record, or
- The Mandatory Proof of Immunization Form completed and Signed by your health care provider.
Center for Disease Control (CDC) information about the measles (rubeola)
What is Measles?
Measles is an infectious viral disease that occurs most often in the late winter and spring. It begins with a fever that lasts for a couple of days, followed by a cough, runny nose, and conjunctivitis (pink eye). A rash starts on the face and upper neck, spreads down the back and trunk, then extends to the arms and hands, as well as the legs and feet. After about 5 days, the rash fades the same order in which it appeared.
How can I catch measles?
Measles is highly contagious. Infected people are usually contagious from about 4 days before their rash starts to 4 days afterwards. The measles virus resides in the mucus in the nose and throat of infected people. When they sneeze or cough, droplets spray into the air and the droplets remain active and contagious on infected surfaces for up to 2 hours.
The symptoms of measles generally begin about 7-14 days after a person is infected, and include:
- Blotchy rash
- Runny nose
- Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Feeling run down, achy (malaise)
- Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik's spots)
A typical case of measles begins with mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and sore throat. Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik's spots) may appear inside the mouth.
Three to five days after the start of symptoms, a red or reddish-brown rash appears. The rash usually begins on a person's face at the hairline and spreads downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. When the rash appears, a person's fever may spike to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.
How serious is the disease?
Measles itself is unpleasant, but the complications are dangerous. Six to 20 percent of the people who get the disease will get an ear infection, diarrhea, or even pneumonia. One out of 1000 people with measles will develop inflammation of the brain, and about one out of 1000 will die.
Why is vaccination necessary?
In the decade before the measles vaccination program began, an estimated 3-4 million persons in the United States were infected each year, of whom 400-500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and another 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles encephalitis. Widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases in the United States compared with the pre-vaccine era.
However, measles is still common in other countries. The virus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly in areas where vaccination is not widespread. It is estimated that in 2006 there were 242,000 measles deaths worldwide-that equals about 663 deaths every day or 27 deaths every hour. If vaccinations were stopped, measles cases would return to pre-vaccine levels and hundreds of people would die from measles-related illnesses.
Is measles still a problem in the United States?
We still see measles among visitors to the United States and among U.S. travelers returning from other countries. The measles viruses these travelers bring into our country sometimes cause outbreaks; however, because most people in the United States have been vaccinated, these outbreaks are usually small.
In the last decade, measles vaccination in the United States has decreased the number of cases to the lowest point ever reported. Widespread use of the measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles compared with the decade before the measles vaccination program began, when an estimated 3-4 million persons in the United States were infected each year, 400-500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and another 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles encephalitis.
If the chance of the diseases is so low, why do I need the vaccine?
It is true that vaccination has enabled us to reduce measles and most other vaccine-preventable diseases to very low levels in the United States. However, measles is still very common-even epidemic-in other parts of the world. Visitors to our country and unvaccinated U.S. travelers returning from other countries can unknowingly bring (import) measles into the United States. Since the virus is highly contagious, such imported cases can quickly spread, causing outbreaks or epidemics among unvaccinated people and under-vaccinated communities.
To protect your children, yourself, and others in the community, it is important to be vaccinated against measles. You may think your chance of getting measles is small, but the disease still exists and can still infect anyone who is not protected.
What kind of vaccine is given to prevent measles?
The MMR vaccine prevents measles and 2 other viral diseases-mumps and rubella. These 3 vaccines are safe given together. MMR is an attenuated (weakened) live virus vaccine. This means that after injection, the viruses grows and causes a harmless infection in the vaccinated person with very few, if any, symptoms. The person's immune system fights the infection caused by these weakened viruses and immunity develops which lasts throughout that person's life.
How effective is MMR vaccine?
More than 95% of the people who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to all 3 viruses. A second vaccine dose gives immunity to almost all of those who did not respond to the first dose.