Measles: What you need to know on campus

Measles have made a strong comeback recently, with several outbreaks happening across the country. We want to make sure our entire UW system community is protected against this infectious disease. You can avoid catching the measles by staying up-to-date on your vaccinations and proper self-care.

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that spreads by airborne droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person. You can become infected just by being in the same room with someone who has measles. The illness starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat, and is followed by a rash that spreads all over the body. The majority of the people who catch measles are unvaccinated.

UW Oshkosh is encouraging all students to take the following steps to stay healthy and prevent spreading the illness:

1. Check your immunization records. First things first, check your immunization records to make sure you’ve had two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Most everyone received this vaccine in childhood.

If not, students can get vaccinated at the Student Health Center, for a fee. Call 920-424-2424 or use SHC Portal to make an appointment. Faculty and staff should visit their private health care provider or pharmacy.

2. Take a page from the flu playbook with preventive actions. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water; sneeze and cough into a tissue or your elbow; and avoid sharing drinks, food, and utensils. The virus can live up to two hours on a surface where an infected person coughed or sneezed and is still capable of infecting others in that time frame.

3. Watch for symptoms. Contact the Student Health Center if you experience them. Early symptoms typically appear about 7 to 14 days after a person is infected. They include high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. A red, raised rash appears across the body three to five days after early symptoms appear. After a few days, the fever and the rash fade away.

Students who experience symptoms should call SHC at 920-424-2424 or use SHC Portal to make an appointment. Faculty and staff should contact their private health care provider.

4. Stay home if you are sick. If you catch measles, it is incredibly important to stay home and away from others. This means don’t attend class or labs, go to work, socialize with others, or use public transportation. Your mouth and nose should be covered during any sneezing or coughing and hands should be washed frequently. You can soothe your symptoms by getting plenty of bed rest, taking over-the-counter pain killers such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol to relieve your fever, and drinking plenty of fluids.

For more information about measles and other resources, visit the CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/measles/resources/index.html