Measles Immunity Profile
Measles, also known as rubeola, is a highly contagious viral infection, which can be spread in the air or by coming into contact with someone infected. The first sign of the measles is a high fever, which may be hard to distinguish initially from other illnesses such as the flu or strep throat.
Measles can cause life-threatening complications and be especially dangerous for young children or those with compromised immunity.1 It's important to understand that those infected with the virus can be contagious before experiencing any symptoms themselves.
It can take anywhere from seven to 14 days for those infected with the virus to experience any symptoms. Besides fever, other symptoms that typically occur include1:
• Dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, and red eyes
• Rash of tiny, red spots that start at the head and spread to the rest of the body
Are You Immune?
Fortunately, the measles is preventable by having immunity developed from either vaccination or having had measles previously. If you have received the standard two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine after 1967, you should be protected against the measles for life.4 Having written documentation of having received adequate vaccination is considered acceptable evidence of immunity.5
Individuals Born Before 1957 or Immunized Before 1967
Most people born before 1957 are thought to have been infected naturally with the virus through measles outbreaks. Vaccines administered between 1963-1967 may or may not be effective depending on what version was received.2
If you were vaccinated in the 1960's, you might need to receive a “live" vaccination since "killed" versions of the vaccine given out during that time were deemed ineffective.2 If you have documentation of having received a live vaccine, you do not need to be revaccinated.5
Testing for Immunity
The measles (rubeola) IgG antibody test can be used to aid in the determination of immunity that is due either to previous exposure to the measles virus or vaccination.
Important Note: An individual’s level of IgG antibody can vary and may decrease over time. Although these individuals maintain adequate immunity, the variance in IgG levels may produce a negative result. If this occurs, you need to consult with your healthcare provider to determine if you should receive a booster vaccine. There is no harm in getting another dose of MMR vaccine if you may already be immune.4
If suspected, and conducted under the supervision of your healthcare provider, this test may be used jointly with the measles (rubeola) IgM antibody test to determine an active case of the measles.
Generally, individuals are presumed to be immune and do not have to confirm their immunity through testing if:
• They have written documentation of adequate vaccination
• They have laboratory confirmation of measles
• They were born before 1957
No special preparation.