Measles is a highly contagious, acute viral illness that can cause severe health complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis, and death. Most students at CSUMB are protected from the virus through immunizations. However, students with suppressed immune systems, those who have not been vaccinated, and those for whom the vaccination is ineffective are at risk for infection.
The virus lives in the mucus in the nose and throat of the infected person. When that person sneezes or coughs, droplets spray into the air. The droplets can get into other people’s noses or throats when they breathe or put their fingers in their mouth or nose after touching an infected surface. After an infected person leaves a location, the virus remains viable for up to 2 hours on surfaces and in the air.
Symptoms of measles generally begin 7-14 days after a person is infected and include:
- high fever
- runny nose
- red, watery eyes
- rash (red or reddish-brown)
- tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik's spots)
Infected people are contagious from 4 days before their rash starts through 4 days afterwards.
A typical case of measles begins with mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat. Two to three days after symptoms begin, tiny white 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 downwards 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.
If you suspect that you or someone you know is infected with measles, it is critical that they receive medical care as soon as possible. The Campus Health Center and all area medical treatment facilities have treatment protocols in place and are prepared in the event that a case of measles is diagnosed at CSUMB.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent getting or exposing others to measles. If you have not been immunized, or are unsure of your immunization status, contact your physician. Students can contact the Campus Health Center at (831) 582-3965 with questions or concerns about measles or the measles vaccine.