You may have heard about the rise of measles cases around the country. And, there have been many confirmed cases right here in Los Angeles this year. Being the mega-metropolis that L.A. is, it’s a good idea to know what measles is and how to respond if you think you may have measles.
What Is Measles? Measles (also called Rubeola) is an extremely contagious and potentially serious viral illness.
How Does It Spread? Measles is a highly contagious disease that easily moves in the air from person to person, and remains in the air for at least 2 hours after the infectious person leaves a room. A person with measles is contagious 4 days before a rash starts and 4 days after the rash appears.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms? Measle symptoms don’t appear until 7 to 21 days after a person first comes into contact with the virus, though symptoms typically appear around 14 days after. Symptoms include a high fever (103 - 105F), cough, watery and red eyes, a runny nose, and a rash that starts on the face before it moves downwards.
How to Prevent Getting It. Measles can easily be prevented with an MMR vaccination which we offer here at the Student Health Center. It is safe and effective. The first step is to check with your health care provider to see if you have had the MMR vaccination already and if you need another dose. If you have had the measles before, you are protected from getting it again. Getting an MMR vaccine is required for all children going into California preschools, grade schools and childcare facilities. Immediately contact your health care provider if you think you have been
exposed to the measles.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Measles? Call your primary care doctor first before going into a doctor’s office to discuss your symptoms. Do NOT go into a medical office until you call first; this is because of how contagious it is. If you do not have a primary care doctor, you can call our Center and we can refer you to a local clinic to contact. If you have been asked to come into the office or clinic, make sure to go in a personal car instead of using public transit.
The flu, also known as influenza, is an infectious, respiratory illness that is spread in the air by someone who has the flu who talks, coughs, or sneezes.
What Are Flu Symptoms? Symptoms include a fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, body ache, feeling hot and cold, headache, fatigue, and occasionally includes vomiting or diarrhea. If you have flu-like symptoms, unless you need to seek medical care, we recommend staying at home while you are sick and for 24 hours after your fever has passed.
When to Seek Medical Care. Get emergency care if you have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in your chest or abdomen, severe or constant vomiting, sudden dizziness, confusion, flu symptoms that seem to improve but then become much worse, such as a higher fever (over 101F) or worsening cough. Seek immediate medical care if any of your symptoms worsen or seem unusual. This is not a complete list. You can view the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s information on influenza for more information.
What Can I Do to Get Better? Stay at home and send an email to your instructor(s) that you will be out sick. Drink a lot of liquids, such as water, tea, broth, etc. Get a lot of rest. And, unless you know what over-the-counter medications are safe for you, contact your health care provider to see what would be best for you to take to treat your fever, cough, and other symptoms related to the flu. While you have the flu, stay away from alcohol and don’t smoke, as the virus can cause the infection to spread deeper into your lungs and nasal passages.
How Do I Prevent Getting the Flu? Getting a flu shot before December of each year can help keep you healthy. There are also flu shots that are made specifically for people over 65 years of age because the flu affects older adults more seriously. The reason it’s important to get a flu shot each year is that viruses change over time, and each year’s flu shot has the antibodies that are most effective for the current flu viruses. While the flu shot is not 100% effective, if you had a flu shot and get the flu, you will usually have only a mild case.