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Public health alert: measles and mumps

Staff Sgt. Bianca Raleigh, 31st Medical Operations Squadron allergy and immunizations technician, prepares a vaccine, Aug. 14, 2013, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The immunizations clinic is responsible for giving service members vaccines to protect them from diseases while deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Matthew Lotz)

(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Matthew Lotz)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The U.S. is experiencing a large multi-state Measles outbreak that started in California in December 2014.  Seventeen people are likely to have become ill after being exposed to a person who was sick with Measles at Disneyland Resort Theme Parks in Anaheim.  The outbreak has spread to six additional states and Mexico.  Of the people who are ill, there have been no reports from Idaho residents. There has been an on-going Mumps outbreak since Sept. 2014 among students at the Moscow campus of the University of Idaho.  Cases have continued to spread outside the Moscow area.  Idaho has 21 confirmed and probable cases, including six in the Boise area, as of 6 February 2015.  No one who works on Mountain Home AFB has been diagnosed with measles or mumps as a result of these outbreaks.

At this time, the risk of measles or mumps infection in our MHAFB community is relatively low. This is due to the high rate of Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccination among our military population, as well as for children attending schools, child development centers, youth centers, and family home day care centers.  Here's a list of frequently asked questions and answers:

What are the symptoms of measles and mumps?

Measles:  Symptoms generally appear about 7 to 14 days after a person is infected.  Symptoms include high fever, sore throat, red and watery eyes, and runny nose followed by a distinctive red rash.

Mumps: Up to half of people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and therefore do not know they were infected with mumps. The most common symptoms include: Fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides (parotitis). Symptoms typically appear 16 to 18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12 to 25 days after infection.

Why are so many people sick with measles?

Measles is easily spread from person to person when people who are sick with measles breathe, cough or sneeze. It can be a very serious disease for young children. The CDC estimates that if one person is sick with measles, up to 90% of unvaccinated people who come in contact with the sick person will also be infected. Many of the people who have become ill during the current outbreak were not vaccinated or were inadequately vaccinated (that is, they did not have 2 doses of the MMR vaccine).

How can I protect myself & my family?

Vaccination with the MMR vaccine is the most effective way to prevent getting measles and mumps. The vaccine also protects again rubella, which is another contagious disease that can cause fever and rash. Individuals should also wash their hands when sick or when in close contact with sick people. When coughing or sneezing, use a tissue and throw the tissue away, instead of using one's hands. If sick, stay home as not to infect others around you.

How do I know if my family & I have been vaccinated?

Active duty members can check their own vaccination record and records of their dependents under 18 years old by going to their "MyIMR" page on the Air Force Portal (https://asims.afms.mil/imr/MyIMR.aspx).

For dependents over the age of 18, please contact your local immunization clinic or your healthcare provider team for a copy of vaccination records.

Civilian & Contract personnel can contact their healthcare provider's office to get more information about their vaccination status.

How effective is the MMR vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is very effective. One dose is about 93% effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus and two doses are about 97% effective. For mumps, while the vaccine is effective, protection against mumps is not complete. Two doses of MMR vaccine are 88% effective at protecting against mumps; one dose is 78% effective.

Can I still get measles or mumps if I am fully vaccinated?

Since the MMR vaccine is not 100% effective, some people who are fully vaccinated will still get measles or mumps if exposed to the virus. Experts aren't sure why; it could be that their immune systems didn't respond as well as they should have to the vaccine. The good news is that fully vaccinated people are much more likely to have a milder illness, and they are less likely to   spread the disease to other people, including people who can't get vaccinated because they are too young or have weakened immune systems.

Do I need a booster vaccine?

No. People who received two doses of a MMR vaccine as children are considered protected for life and do not ever need a booster dose.
Adults born before 1957 are likely to have had measles and/or mumps disease as a child and are generally (but not always) considered not to need vaccination. Other adults who were not vaccinated during childhood need at least one dose of the MMR vaccine, unless they have evidence of immunity. Adults, who are going to be in a setting that poses a high risk for measles or mumps transmission, including students at post-high school education institutions, healthcare personnel, and international travelers, should make sure they have had two doses separated by at least 28 days.

Where do I go if my family members or I need to be vaccinated?

The MMR vaccine is available to active duty members and all beneficiaries. Vaccines are given on a walk-in basis during normal business hours at the Mountain Home AFB Immunization Clinic. The Immunization Clinic is open Monday through Thursday, from 7:30 to 1145 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m., and Friday mornings from 7:30 to 1145 a. m. Please call the Immunizations Clinic at 828-7260 for questions.

What should I do if a family member or I have symptoms of measles or mumps, or have been exposed to someone with measles?

Military members and dependents concerned that they may have measles should stay home and contact the 366th MDG appointment line at 828-7900.  Civilian workers and contractors should contact their healthcare provider. As usual, all parties should contact their supervisors when seeking medical attention or if placed on quarters.

If  diagnosed with measles or mumps, notify your supervisors immediately.  For dependents attending schools or child and youth programs, please notify the corresponding director. 

I supervise someone who called in sick or suspect they have measles/mumps...what should I do?

Please contact Public Health at 828-7280 and you will be advised as to what steps should be taken.

Where can I go for more information?

If you have any questions regarding measles, you can visit the CDC's website at: http://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html

You can also visit the Central District Health Department website at:

For additional tips on preventing the measles, mumps, or other contagious infections, contact the 366th MDG's Public Health Flight at 208-828-7280.