SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -For most parents, measles is a scary word.
The number of people in the United States with the measles has reached levels not seen in 25 years. It’s a viral infection that’s serious for small children but is easily preventable by a vaccine.
Symptoms of the measles include a cough, watery red eyes, a runny nose, a rash from the face to the torso and a high fever, which can quickly lead to serious complications.
“Sometimes measles can cause ear infections, that lead to permanent hearing loss, and certainly Encephalitis that can lead to permanent psychological development,” said Dr. Dudley Stone with Coastal Pediatrics. She included “Death is the most feared complication.”
Dr. Stone says 20% of patients who get the measles end up in the hospital. It is a highly contagious disease that can affect those who have never had the measles or the vaccination.
“When somebody coughs, or sneezes who has the measles, the germs can linger in the air for up to two hours," said Dr. Stone. "It’s one of the most contagious diseases that we have.”
Doctors here are pushing the importance of vaccines, but not everyone can get them. The first dose of the measles vaccine is typically given when a baby turns 12 months old, so for that first year, newborns are at risk.
There have been a lot of outbreaks this year, in communities, and pockets of unvaccinated people," said Dr. Stone. “Infants or really any family members, who travel to those areas, can bring back the measles, could expose unvaccinated infants.”
The measles vaccine is 97% effective. There are 6 cases of the measles in the Atlanta area, but there are no cases of the measles here in the Savannah area.
Dr. Stone says in his almost 20 years as a pediatrician, he has never even seen a case, thanks to the vaccine.