Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If You Thought You Were Safe From The Measles Outbreak, Think Again

On Tuesday New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio declared a public health emergency due to a rising measles outbreak in Brooklyn. Other areas of the country have also seen an alarming rise in measles, like Michigan, California, and Washington State. While many of the measles cases that have been reported were found in children under the age of 18, that doesn't mean adults are safe. In fact, the measles outbreak might affect more people than first suspected, according to a recent report by the Detroit Free Press.

The report suggests that adults who were born between the years 1957-1989 might consider themselves safe from contracting the measles, but that might not actually be the case. People born within that time frame might have only received one dose of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine because, at the time, that was what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was recommending. Since 1989, however, the CDC changed its recommendation to two doses of the MMR vaccine rather than one. The double dose is expected to offer people 97 percent protection from the measles virus. Unfortunately there are people out there who think their immunization records are up to date and they are safe. That's why Oakland County health division spokesperson Leigh-Anne Stafford wants people to talk to their medical professionals to see their immunization records.

John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As Stafford explained to the Detroit Free Press:

For a lot of people who were born after 1957 but prior to 1989-1990, there was only one dose that was recommended at that time. A lot of people might feel they are up to date on their vaccines because their parents may say, 'Oh, you’re up to date. We vaccinated you.' But they're not. So that’s why we keep talking about knowing your status. Are there two doses documented somewhere with a doctor? Or Is it listed in MICR (Michigan Care Improvement Registry), which is the Michigan registration database for immunizations? If you don’t, then get vaccinated.

In New York, any adults who were not vaccinated have been ordered to do so by the state or risk paying a fine of $1,000 as health officials try to get the public health emergency of measles outbreak under control, as per USA Today.

The measles virus is highly contagious and comes with a whole host of symptoms for those affected, according to Adult Vaccination, including:

  • high fever
  • rash
  • runny nose
  • pink, watery eyes
  • coughing
  • diarrhea
  • earaches

It can also take the measles as much as 21 days between exposure and signs of symptoms, which means that tracking back to the exposure site can prove difficult. The best thing you can do to avoid contracting measles and spreading it through the community is to know your immunization history, as per ABC News. Even if you did receive both doses of the MMR vaccine you can ask your doctor to check your blood for measles antibodies. As health officials in several states try to contain the spread of the virus, it is simply better to be safe than sorry.