published Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Ask A Doctor: Measles has been reported in Hamilton County. Is it too late to vaccinate my child?

By Dr. Tonia Cox

Q: I understand a case of the measles has been reported in Hamilton County. Is it too late to vaccinate my child?

A: There was a documented case in mid-May. Luckily, there have been no reports of the disease spreading beyond that one individual.

Measles is caused by a virus easily spread through the air or from surfaces. If someone is infected, they may not show symptoms for eight to 12 days. They may, however, be contagious for a few days before symptoms begin and for four days after the rash begins. The first symptoms are usually runny nose, cough, fever and inflamed eyes. Some children develop pneumonia, ear infections and, in a few cases, encephalitis (infection of the brain). After an individual has been ill for a few days, a rash develops. The only treatment for measles is supportive: fluids, rest and fever reducers.

Since the measles vaccine became available in 1963, there has been a significant decline in the number of measles cases in the United States. Most now occur in children who were infected in other parts of the world or were infected by contact with these travelers. Anyone who has not been vaccinated is vulnerable. All children should receive a measles, mumps and rubella vaccination at their 12-month checkup and a booster dose at their 4-year checkup.

— Dr. Tonia Cox, pediatrician, Diagnostic Center; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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