CDC offers interim infection control guidance in light of rising measles cases

Dentists should be vaccinated, adhere to standard precautions

As measles cases rise in several U.S. states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reminding health care workers, including dentists and their team members, to receive the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine if they are not already vaccinated and adhere to standard precautions in the workplace.

As of March 28, 17 states have reported a total of 97 measles cases. In comparison, there were 58 cases in all of 2023.

The CDC advises its interim infection prevention and control recommendations for measles in health care settings should be implemented by facilities in the context of a comprehensive infection prevention program to prevent transmission of all infectious agents among patients, health care personnel and staff.

The CDC’s recommendations include:

• Ensuring health care personnel have presumptive evidence of immunity to measles. If they do not, they should get two doses of the MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.

• Rapidly identifying and isolating patients with known or suspected measles.

• Adhering to standard and airborne precautions for patients with known or suspected measles.

• Routinely promoting and facilitating respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. This could include posting visual alerts on these topics at the facility entrance and in common areas.

• Appropriately managing exposed and ill health care personnel.

The CDC previously issued a health advisory stating all U.S. residents traveling internationally and all children should be current on their MMR vaccine. Most cases reported this year have been among children aged 12 months and older who had not received the MMR vaccine.

Measles is highly contagious. One person infected with measles can infect 9 out of 10 unvaccinated individuals with whom they come in close contact, according to the CDC. The virus is transmitted by direct contact with infectious droplets or by airborne spread when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. The virus can remain infectious in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves an area.

Symptoms include tiny white spots inside the mouth, high fever, cough, runny nose, rash and red, watery eyes.

States with measles cases include Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.

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