There is an increased risk of measles in Mendocino County resulting from recent cases identified in Santa Clara, Chico and Redding; however, no cases have been reported locally.
Signs and Symptoms
Measles is a highly contagious virus that spreads through coughing and sneezing.
In order of appearance, symptoms include:
- high fever
- runny nose
- red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
- small white spots appear in the mouth
- a rash that begins with flat red spots on the face at the hairline and spreads downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet (A fever can spike with the onset of the rash.)
For more information, visit the “About Measles” page on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
How Measles Spreads
Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace said up to 90 percent of non-immunized people who encounter an infected person (or the virus they leave behind) will also become infected. When infected people cough, sneeze, or touch something, the virus can remain active for up to two hours, allowing others to breathe contaminated air or pick up the virus from infected surfaces such as doorknobs and armrests.
He said, “Some parents have opted not to vaccinate their children based on their belief that this is the best course of action for their children. When there weren’t any reported cases of measles nearby, the threat to non-immunized children and to our community as a whole was minimal. However, things have changed. The risk is far higher. If you were on the fence before, now’s the time to vaccinate.” He recommended people contact their primary care provider to do so.
Who Is At Risk
Measles can be especially dangerous for children and frail adults. It remains the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death in children worldwide. For those who contract the disease and survive, there are sometimes long-lasting problems such as hearing loss and neurological problems. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is 97 percent effective, which means only 3 out of every 1000 people who are vaccinated will not be fully protected. However, if everyone is vaccinated, everyone benefits from herd immunity. Those 3 people are unlikely to come into contact with the virus, so they are safe, too. To reach herd immunity, approximately 90 percent of people must be vaccinated. Once people are fully vaccinated, usually as children, they do not need a booster as an adult.
What to Do if Your Child Has Symptoms
If you fear your children have been exposed, call their primary care provider. The primary care provider may request that the child remains outside the health center or doctor’s office in the car where the provider can go to them. Other ways to reduce the spread of measles include handwashing, covering your cough, and wearing masks.
If you do not have a primary care provider, contact Mendocino County Public Health at (707) 472-2600.
Reported Cases of Measles in Northern California
Vaccine Fact Sheet
To learn more about measles and the vaccine for it, click below.
How to Get Immunized
Measles immunizations are available from your primary healthcare provider, local pharmacy, or health clinic. Public Health offers immunizations, which are usually covered by insurance. Click here for details.