MedicineWith 41 confirmed cases, it’s already the largest measles outbreak since the 1990s and they’re saying we could still be in the early stages of the outbreak, with more to come. What does the outbreak mean for everyone else?

While Minnesota has the worst, there are smaller measles outbreaks across the country. In most places, it’s starting in unvaccinated populations and then spreading.

Children get the MMR vaccine which includes mumps and rubella in addition to measles over the course of a couple of shots before the age of five (or so). During childhood, it’s 97% effective but loses efficacy as you age, which means these outbreaks take away the protection of people who were in the 3% that didn’t get immunity the first time, or who lost immunity with age.

(Side note: what impacts getting and keeping immunity? Your immune system. Being off when you get the shot—tired, already sick, whatever—or having immune problems can impact your body’s ability to adapt and fight.)

Symptoms of measles includes coughing, fever, runny nose, and a rash, but in some severe cases can escalate to diarrhea, pneumonia, or even blindness.

Now that measles is out there, spreading from pockets of outbreaks, you can work to avoid it by following the same sort of precautions you take for other diseases like flu. Avoid people showing symptoms of illness, stay home if you find yourself sick, and watch for local announcements about measles outbreaks. You can even go the extra mile and support your immune system with colloidal silver.

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