Important public health message about measles from Dr. Paul Genecin (April 15, 2019)

April 15, 2019

A message from Dr. Paul Genecin
To:  All Students, faculty and staff

Recent news reports show a large outbreak of measles cases in New York City and in Rockland county, New York. Most of these cases have involved people who were unvaccinated against measles. As of this Thursday, there has also been a report of a measles case in New Haven County linked to the ongoing outbreak in New York.

Measles can be a serious disease, but fortunately, we have a safe and effective vaccine. We ask that you get the measles vaccine if you are not immune. The measles vaccine takes effect quickly and will help protect you, your family and the community against the potentially serious complications of the illness. The disease is highly contagious among susceptible people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who received two doses of the measles vaccine or who have evidence of immunity on a blood test are considered immune. Other than in outbreak situations, members of the general population who were born before 1957 are also considered immune to measles. Contact Yale Health or your health care provider if you would like the vaccine, or if you are not sure whether you are immune to measles.

Although measles has been rare in the United States due to the widespread childhood immunization, the incidence has been rising in the past several years, driven in part by unvaccinated members of the community. Please note that measles is still common in parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and unvaccinated travelers with measles can bring the disease the United States.  International communities including universities are therefore at risk.

The majority of the people who have not been vaccinated, as well as a very small percentage of vaccinated individuals, will develop measles if exposed to someone with an active infection.  The virus is spread by personal contact or by exposure to droplets of respiratory fluid from people with measles.

When a susceptible person is infected with the measles virus, they usually become ill within 6 to 21 days (two weeks on average).  The symptoms include fever, rash, conjunctivitis (red, irritated eyes) and cough. People spread the virus to others for up to 4 days before they develop symptoms. Infants, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems who become ill with measles are at high risk for serious complications.
 
If you or a family member develop a fever with a rash and respiratory symptoms, it is crucial that you first call your medical provider for advice before coming into a health care facility and exposing others.  
 
All members of the Yale University community can reach Yale Health about vaccine-related questions at 203-432-0312.