Measles - What you need to know

3/22/20242 min read

3 brown hand with white background
3 brown hand with white background

With recent outbreaks of measle infections throughout the US, including our neighboring state of Minnesota, we feel the need to remind everyone about what measles is and what happens when measles arrives in our community.

First – measles is highly contagious. For every 1 person infected, 9-10 others (on average) will become infected. It spreads through very small droplets in the air by coughing, sneezing, talking, etc. It can remain in the air and on surfaces for 2 hours after. It is a virus – there is no treatment other than supportive care such as rest, hydration, and over the counter medications. Common symptoms include a rash, fever, and flu-like symptoms – however serious complications exist and include pneumonia, seizures, and brain swelling. Symptom onset is typically 10-14 days after exposure and children are contagious up to 4 days before symptoms appear.  CDC reports that about 1/3 children infected with measles are hospitalized.

This disease was nearly eradicated after the invent of the MMR vaccination, however with declining vaccination rates and global travel measles outbreaks have continued to increase. Our community is no exception to declining vaccination rates including the MMR vaccine. To have “herd immunity” – meaning most people have immunity to protect those that don’t – a minimal vaccination rate of 95% must exist. Current year K-12 school data reflect an overall MMR vaccination rate at 92%, with elementary average at 90% and high school at 94%. There is much variation of rates through the grade levels – 81% to 100%.

Measles is entirely preventable with the MMR vaccine. Children typically receive the MMR vaccine at 12 months again at age 4 or for Kindergarten entry. Catch up doses can be completed with 2 doses, 4 weeks apart. This can happen at any pediatric doctor office or at Kidder County District Health Unit regardless of insurance status. Vaccination is 93% effective after one dose, 97% effective after 2 doses!

In the event a case of the measles is identified at the school or a childcare facility:

-All children and staff who are not up to date with the measles vaccination series will be excluded


-This exclusion will exist for 21 days after the LAST case of the measles has been identified in the facility. 21 days reflects the incubation period of the virus. The school and local health department will work with the local health officer and state health department to determine when everyone can return to school.

These actions are in compliance with Century Code 23-07-17.6.

What can you do?

-Know your status! Find your vaccination record to be sure you are protected or call our office at 475-2582 to help. If you are not up to date, we offer the vaccine locally.

-Get your kids up to date. The single biggest prevention factor is to immunize. For those children who are not 12 months yet to get their first dose, an early dose can be given at 6-11 months.

For more information about measles and other communicable diseases, please call your child’s PCP or visit www.health.nd.gov/disease-conditions or kiddercountyhealth.com.