Measles Cases in the US

April 26, 2019

As you may be aware, measles has been in the news a lot lately, with an increase in cases globally as well as within the United States, linked to decreased vaccination rates.  Measles starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. It’s followed by a rash that spreads over the body. Measles can be serious, especially to young children and adults; about 1 in 4 people need to be hospitalized and 1-2 per 1000 may die from complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (brain infection).  Measles is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing. 

Being vaccinated with the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and to prevent an outbreak. Our campus community is quite well-prepared, not the least because UC Berkeley started requiring incoming students to be immunized against measles, along with several other easily transmitted infectious diseases, in fall 2016. Per submitted information, over 80% of the student body is fully vaccinated, and this is likely an underestimate -- but better safe than sorry. 

We recommend that everyone check their immunization records and if they were born after 1957 and do NOT see two doses of MMR (first dose after the first birthday, and separated by at least four weeks), talk to their healthcare provider ASAP to find out whether they should be immunized.  The answer will almost always be a resounding YES but there are a few exceptions. People traveling abroad should be particularly sure to be protected before you leave, as there are several areas of the world at risk.

Registered students (with or without SHIP) can get vaccines at the Tang Center. Vaccines have no charge for SHIP students and the charge for non-SHIP is $125, which may be reimbursable. Students can book an appointment through eTang or call our advice nurse at (510) 643-7197. Faculty and staff should consult their Primary Care Provider. 

In addition to being vaccinated, general hygiene is helpful, including washing hands frequently. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing. Avoid sharing utensils, water bottles, or other items contaminated by saliva or respiratory secretions. 

Finally, seek care immediately if you are concerned you might have measles