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Measles: What you need to know

Photo: CDC / Dr. Heinz F. Eichenwald

The measles outbreak in Washington State continues with new cases popping up all over the United States.

Nevada had only had one confirmed case, but experts warn, now is the time to check your vaccination status because it’s one of the most contagious viruses out there and it can take weeks to even show symptoms.

It was considered eradicated in 2000, but the measles is making an ugly comeback in states across the nation.

Dan Heller, the lead pharmacist with Smith’s in Las Vegas said, “Typically outbreaks happen in our country, not because of something that started in the United States, it’s typically foreign travelers who might not have been vaccinated or brought the virus in the country and then came in contact with someone who couldn’t have the vaccine or chose not to receive the vaccine.”

For those who are unprotected, herd immunity is what keeps them safe said Heller. “Because so many people are vaccinated that we just protect each other.”

When that fails, outbreaks happen.

“If you have ten people in this room that were exposed to measles that were susceptible, nine of those ten are going to get measles. It’s that infectious," said Dr. Scott Lindquist with Washington State Department of Health.

Symptoms start with a high fever, runny nose and cough then progress to a rash. Experts say it’s airborne and you’re contagious before symptoms even start.

“You just want to get isolated,” said Heller.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the Director of the CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases says “Americans who are unvaccinated put themselves and their communities at risk for measles.”

Every state has a vaccination mandate for children. Most, however, allow exemptions for religious reasons, including Nevada.

Though the Silver State is not one of 17 which allows exemptions for personal beliefs. Heller said, “We have a pretty good vaccination rate in our state.”

There is an antibody test that can tell if you have immunity to the virus but Heller said if you’re unsure, you can always get vaccinated.

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