May 25, 2019

A message from the UMW Student Health Center

To the Campus Community:

With summer approaching and vacation travel being planned, I recommend that you check your measles status by reviewing your immunization record or immune status. As you likely have heard, there are measles outbreaks throughout the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 764 cases in 23 states have been confirmed since the beginning of this year. Most of those affected have never been vaccinated.

Measles is an acute viral respiratory illness characterized by high fever, cough, runny nose, and conjunctivitis. It is a highly contagious virus that can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that individual who are not immune will also become infected.

The good news is that measles can be prevented with the MMR vaccine. The vaccine protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. The MMR vaccine is safe and effective. Two doses of MMR are 97% effective in preventing measles and one dose is about 93% effective. CDC recommendations for the MMR vaccinations can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mmr/public/index.html.

Measles is still common in other countries. Unvaccinated Americans can contract measles while abroad and bring the disease into the United States. Measles is more likely to spread and cause outbreaks in U.S. communities where groups of people are unvaccinated. https://www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html

International travelers should heed more warnings at https://www.cdc.gov/measles/travelers.html. If you have not been vaccinated or are unsure of your immunization status, please check in with your primary care physician before traveling this summer and/or before you return for the start of the fall 2019 semester.

If you have questions, contact me at nwang@umw.edu.

Sincerely,

Nancy Wang, M.D.

University Physician

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