Nashville, Tenn. - You may think of measles and mumps as diseases of the past, but the Tennessee Department of Health says they are still very contagious.
Outbreaks have been reported in several states, and health officials are urging you to make sure your measles-mumps-rubella - or MMR vaccinations - are up to date.
"We urge everyone to be vaccinated for measles and mumps, especially those traveling abroad, not just to protect themselves, but to protect all people they may come in contact with when they return," said Kelly Moore, MD, MPH, medical director of the Tennessee Immunization Program. "While many people assume they have been properly immunized, some may not have the adequate protection needed."
Two doses of MMR vaccine are recommended. Children routinely get the first dose at 12-to-15 months old and the second dose before kindergarten. MMR vaccines are required in Tennessee for children attending daycare, all school children and college students, and two doses have been required since 1990. Children routinely get the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose before Kindergarten.
And adults, you might be in need of another dose of the vaccine yourself, because the second dose has only been recommended since 1989.
Symptoms of measles typically include high fever, cough and runny nose for up to three or four days before red eyes develop and a red rash starts on the head and chest. If a patient develops symptoms like measles, he or she should call ahead to their doctor's office or ER so the staff can put them directly in a room away from other patients. Because the virus easily spreads in the air to others, this step is very important to protect other patients from exposure. Unfortunately, measles can cause death in some patients.
Symptoms of mumps include low-grade fever, muscle aches, headaches, feeling weak or tired, losing appetite and most typically, swelling of cheeks due to inflammation of salivary glands near the jaw line. Complications may occur and are more prevalent in those who have reached puberty. Complications may include inflammation of the testicles, brain, the covering of the brain and spinal cord, ovaries or breasts. Temporary or permanent deafness may occur.
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