University settings provide ideal opportunities for the measles virus to rapidly spread via airborne routes in classrooms, auditoriums, arenas or housing. Measles virus can linger in the air for up to 2 hours after the infected person has left the area. It is considered one of the most contagious infectious diseases, since an infected person can pass on the disease for several days before symptoms appear.
Measles is a disease characterized by a high fever, cough, runny nose, reddened eyes and rash. Complications can be severe, including pneumonia, brain inflammation, seizures, deafness and death. By immunizing ourselves, we prevent the spread to each other on campus and to vulnerable populations, including babies, children and those with weakened immune systems.
While no cases of measles have been confirmed in Kentucky yet this year, students, faculty and staff are being urged to be fully immunized to the measles before any measles cases are reported in Kentucky. In order to be fully immunized against the measles, a person needs to have received 2 doses of the MMR vaccine during their lifetime, if born in 1957 or later.
How do I check to see if I am immune?
· You are immune if you have records of 2 MMR immunizations during your lifetime.
· If you do not have immunization records, you should contact your physician to have a simple blood test to check your measles immunity. Your physician can administer a booster MMR immunization if needed. These charges will likely be covered by your health insurance.
· You are considered immune if you were born before 1957.
For students, immunizations and measles immunity testing are available through Campus Health Services at Cardinal Station (852-6479) or on the Health Sciences Campus (852-6446). Faculty and staff should contact their primary care physician. Your health insurance will likely cover vaccinations and possibly your immunity testing.
For more information, call Trish Cooper, RN at Campus Health Services at 852-5326.