It's hard not to panic when there's a public health crisis or even rumors of one. With measles outbreaks dominating news cycles, should you be alarmed? Are your kids or you at risk if you've already been vaccinated? Why has this virus returned to the United States in such overwhelming numbers? While the public fever over measles is just, once your most pressing questions are answered, you can take any steps needed to protect yourself and your family, thereby eliminating the fear and possible hysteria in your home.

Where Is This Virus Coming From?

Unfortunately, travelers from other countries occasionally bring diseases with them, but in the case of measles, the fact that some people in the U.S. failed to be immunized in the first place has exasperated the situation. Especially when measles is introduced into a tight-knit community where vaccinations haven't taken place, measles spreads quickly both within and around that area.

Because anti-vaxxers aren't protected, they can put everyone else at risk. The number of annual cases fluctuates, but when circumstances are just right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it), any virus or disease could run rampant. 

Are Vaccinated People Safe?

While those who have been immunized against measles can become infected, their numbers are extremely rare. So rare, in fact, that if you and your family have been vaccinated, you really don't have to be concerned about becoming infected.

What Are Symptoms Of The Measles Virus?

Because measles has the distinct symptom of an odd rash, it's relatively simple for you to distinguish between this and other conditions. Symptoms also include fever, sore throat, runny nose, and a dry, irritating cough. But, if there's no rash, you or your child likely have the common cold or another respiratory ailment and not the measles.

How Should Someone Respond If They Think They Have The Measles?

If you're not sure you were adequately immunized, see a doctor right away. They can either perform a test to determine if you're protected or simply immunize you anyway, as there's no danger in being vaccinated twice.

If you think you (or someone in your home) has the measles (or any other contagious disease, for that matter), call your doctor first rather than rushing to the emergency room. If you don't have an assigned physician, call the ER, but always give advance notice that you may have a communicable condition.

Healthcare professionals can make preparations to examine you without risking other patients or staff. It's imperative that you don't give in to panic and simply show up somewhere unannounced, proclaiming "I have the measles!"

Once diagnosed, you'll be treated and sent home, where you should disinfect thoroughly, wash your hands frequently, cough and sneeze into tissues, and avoid contact with just about everybody until you're certain you're not contagious. 

How Can You Comfort Your Children's Fears?

Explain the facts about measles to your kids without getting into too many unpleasant details. You want them to be aware and to practice safe and healthy habits, but you don't want to instill fear in them. 

Measles is no laughing matter; however, once you're in the know, you know how to be in the clear. Talk to your family physician if you have any questions or fears about this virus, and don't allow yourself or any members of your household to be overcome by ridiculous rumors and hectic headlines. Once you have had your immunizations, you're good to go, no matter what the neighborhood gossip or office troublemaker has to say.