Measles is extremely contagious, infecting nearly 90 percent of unvaccinated people who come into
contact with it. Why is it so contagious? It’s spread through the air (via coughing/sneezing). People standing in the airspace around the infected person can become infected by breathing in these respiratory droplets; they do not need to be sneezed
or coughed on directly. Those infected with measles are at their most contagious the four days prior to the appearance of the rash, meaning they are extremely contagious before they themselves are aware of the virus.
Measles symptoms develop
approximately 8-12 days after exposure but the measles rash will not develop until 3 -5 days after symptoms first appear. The first symptoms are similar to a severe cold:
The measles rash begins on the face but quickly spreads downward, covering the body. Fever may be at its highest—topping 104 degrees Fahrenheit—at
the appearance of the rash.
Before the measles vaccine, more than three to four million people in the U.S. would contract the virus each year. Infected individuals can develop mild-to-severe complications including pneumonia, blindness, deafness,
brain swelling, permanent neurological damage and even death.
Julie Holland, MD, Head of General Pediatrics at NorthShore,
discusses who should receive the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and when:
Everyone should be vaccinated. Vaccines like MMR are a safe and effective way to prevent the spread of the virus. While there have been small outbreaks in the
U.S., measles is very common in other parts of the world and can spread easily to the unvaccinated and under-vaccinated in the U.S.
Make an appointment or call your doctor or your child’s pediatrician
to ensure you and your children are adequately vaccinated.
Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same
virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant (inactive) in the body. For reasons that are not fully known, the virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles.
Shingles is a painful blistering skin
rash that often appears in a strip or band on a single side of the face or body. The rash may not be the first sign of shingles. Before the rash develops, people often have pain, itching or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. This may happen
anywhere from 1 to 5 days before the rash appears. Other symptoms can include fever, headache and chills.
The rash produces chickenpox-like blisters and irritation, and pain can be very severe. In most cases, blisters will heal within 2-4 weeks
and pain will subside with the rash. However, severe cases of shingles can leave the skin permanently scarred or discolored and pain caused by damaged nerve fibers can last long after shingles blisters have healed.
Matthew Plofsky, MD, Family Medicine at NorthShore, shares information on how to shorten the duration of the infection, lessen the severity of symptoms and possibly prevent shingles altogether:
Relieving symptoms and
Have you been vaccinated
for chickenpox or shingles?
Does it seem like you make a lot of trips to see your pediatrician? Regardless of the reason—the sniffles,
a high fever, an infection or something else—it is a good idea to make regular visits to the doctor. These appointments, along with any “back-to-school” check-ups, are not only important to your child’s well being, but also can help physicians identify health
risks and preventive measures.
Alison Galanopoulos, MD, NorthShore-affiliated Pediatrician, identifies some of the common health concerns that a pediatrician can often identify during regular visits:
How frequently do you take your child/children to the pediatrician?