The alarming rate of new measles cases in the United States has doctors reaching out to recommend that those not vaccinated should consider getting the shot to protect not only themselves but those around them.

The alarming spread of measles has local doctors urging families to educate themselves about the disease and get vaccinated for the first time or again, if they do not know if they ever got the shot. The number of measles cases has now hit a 25-year high.

The measles virus has been resurrected here in the United States because of the increase in travelers who get the measles abroad and bring it home with them. With so many people not getting vaccinations, it is spreading the disease throughout many communities. Measles is still common in many parts of the world. Each year, an estimated 10 million people are affected by measles, killing more than 100 thousand people.

Most people think that the measles is just another virus to deal with, but this is far from the truth.

Dr. Benjamin Barlow, Chief Medical Officer of American Family Care, a national network with medical clinics, said, “We want people to truly understand the severity of the disease and if they or their loved ones or the people around them get the virus, it could mean quarantines and missing school or work for weeks.”

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases and spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. If one person has it, nine out of 10 people of all ages around the infected person will get it if they are unprotected.

It is true that the measles can be a mild illness in some, but it can also be deadly. Children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age are more likely to suffer from complications. Very young children could catch pneumonia, have brain damage, go blind, deaf or even die.

Adults born during or after 1957, who have not had the measles or the vaccination, should get at least one dose of the vaccine to protect themselves. Top doctors at the CDC say there is absolutely no link between vaccines and autism. While the MMR vaccine does use a weakened form of the live virus, it does not make you sick if you get the shot and you will not spread the diseases from the virus in the shot.

Signs and symptoms of measles usually appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected. Initial symptoms include a runny nose, cough, red eyes and fever. A few days after symptoms begin tiny white spots may appear in the mouth. A rash appears after three days of infection.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/measles/about/index.html.