Officials urge MMR vaccination after U.S. measles outbreak

Recent outbreaks of measles and mumps in Virginia, Maryland and Tennessee have health officials urging the public to ensure they have been properly vaccinated with the MMR vaccination.

Although infection by the measles and mumps is not extremely common in the U.S., the diseases are still very common in the rest of the world, including Western Europe. Health care officials warned those that travel to ensure they have been properly vaccinated because the diseases are highly contagious and transferrable to those with whom they come into contact.

"We urge everyone to be vaccinated for measles and mumps, especially those traveling abroad, not just to protect themselves, but to protect all people they may come in contact with when they return," Director of the Tennessee Immunization Program Kelly Moore said. "While many people assume they have been properly immunized, some may not have the adequate protection needed."

A double dose of the MMR vaccination is recommended, with only those born after 1989 expected to have the appropriate dosage. Infants younger than six months are not able to receive the vaccination. Additional care is recommended from those at risk of contracting MMR who also have contact with infants.

Symptoms of the measles include cough, runny nose, high fever, rash, reddening of the eyes and, in severe cases, death. Symptoms of the mumps are worse for those past the pubescent phase and can cause low fevers, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, temporary or permanent deafness, swelling of the cheeks, testicles, brain, ovaries, breasts, and the lining of the brain and spinal cord.