Measles OutbreakOver the past few weeks, the measles outbreak in the United States has been a big topic of conversation. For those of you who may not know about measles, it is a highly contagious virus that spreads through the air via coughing and sneezing. It starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat, which is then followed by a rash that spreads over the body. It is very dangerous and can be fatal.
Measles can be prevented with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. “One dose of MMR vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus, and two doses are about 97 percent effective,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the CDC, measles was eliminated from the country in 2000; however, measles can be spread by unvaccinated people who catch it outside of the U.S. They can then spread measles to other people who are not protected against it – which is what is happening today.
What This Means for Transplant PatientsAnyone about to undergo transplant surgery – whether receiving or giving an organ – needs to be even more careful about contracting measles. To make sure you’re safe, we’ll be screening all pre-transplant patients and potential living donors born after 1957. Your nurse coordinator may reach out to you. In preparation, we wanted to provide you with the guidelines for how the measles screening will work:
- Your physician will need to verify that you have two documented doses of the measles vaccine. If you do have the documentation, you won’t need to go through a screening test.
- If the team isn’t able to confirm two documented doses of measles vaccine, you’ll be screened for immunity with a measles antibody IgG test.
- Household and family members of transplant patients, transplant candidates and potential living donors should be vaccinated against measles too. If they were born after 1957, have not had measles and have not received two doses of the measles vaccine, they should be vaccinated by their primary providers.
- Household and family members of transplant patients, transplant candidates and potential living donors in high-risk jobs, such as teachers, daycare workers and pediatric healthcare workers, should have their immunization status checked and get re-vaccinated if needed.
- Note: Organs for transplant from deceased donors with active measles at the time of death will not be accepted.