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What You Should Know About...

Measles in the Child Care Setting

Measles is caused by the measles virus. Symptoms include a fever, runny nose, cough, and sore and reddened eyes followed by a red-brown blotchy rash. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads down the body, and lasts 3 or more days. Most children with measles become quite ill, but recover with no ill effects. Occasionally, however, measles can lead to pneumonia or inflammation of the brain and permanent disability or death. Adults and very young children tend to have more severe illness.

Measles is vaccine preventable. Measles vaccine is administered as part of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine series to children beginning at 12 to 15 months and again at 4 to 6 years of age or 11 to 12 years of age.

Measles is highly contagious and is spread easily from person to person through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes and a susceptible person inhales the organism. These particles may remain suspended in the air, and persons have become infected simply be being in a room after an infected person has left. Thus, all children and any adult who did not have the disease as a child should be vaccinated. Adults born prior to 1957 are considered immune. Child care providers born after 1956 should receive 2 doses of MMR vaccine, with at least one dose given after 1967 at age 12 months or older.

If a case of measles occurs in your facility: Immediately notify the local health department. They will decide if a special immunization program or other treatment is needed for those in close contact with the infected person. Exclude the infected person from the facility until 5 days after the rash appears. Notify parents. Any unimmunized children and adults should be immunized or excluded from the center until 2 weeks after the rash appears in the last case of measles in the facility. Closely observe all children to determine whether any additional cases may be developing.