Oklahoma Department of Health urges public receive measles vaccination

The Oklahoma Department of Health recently released a warning to the public to take preventative measures against contracting the measles after the Texas Department of State Health Services reported an outbreak.

"We are worried about the current outbreak of measles in Texas, because measles is very contagious, spreads like wildfire and can be very serious," Director of the Immunization Service at the Oklahoma DOH Lori Linstead said. "Persons of any age who have not been appropriately vaccinated against measles are susceptible to the disease."

There have been no reported cases of measles in Oklahoma since 1997. The Oklahoma DOH seeks to keep a potential outbreak from occurring.

Measles is contracted by coming into contact with nasal or throat secretions of an infected person through touch or via airborne droplets caused by coughing or sneezing. Infected persons are highly contagious up to four days before and after symptoms.

Measles symptoms include a red, blotchy rash covering the entire body, high fever, cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis, ear infection, pneumonia and encephalitis. There is no treatment for a measles infection, although the symptoms can be treated; preventing an infection in the first place is the best method.

"We strongly recommend that all parents think about vaccinating their children with MMR vaccine now," Linstead said. "The first dose is recommended at 12 to 15 months of age, so babies who have reached their first birthday can receive the vaccine now; there is no reason to wait."

The Oklahoma DOH asks that people receive the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine from their family physicians, a clinic or a county health department.