Measles Update for the 2019 Summer Camp Season

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. Here some top tips for camps.

Top Tips for Camps

  1. Know each camper and staff member’s immunization status. Require an immunization history (including month and year for each type of immunization) for each camper and staff member on the camp’s health history form. This is particularly important when illness associated with lack of immunization occurs. Understand your state's exemptions from school immunization requirements as well.
  2. Decide if you will allow unvaccinated campers and staff at your camp. Understand the risk if you do accept a camper or staff member who has not been immunized for measles.  ACA-Accreditation standards allow for a camp to accept campers who have not been immunized due to religious or other reasons — requiring instead that the parent/custodial guardian can sign a waiver form.  If someone not protected through immunization comes in contact with an infected person, many public health departments have initiated mandatory 21 day quarantine. 
    Each public health department may handle this differently.  For example, where the quarantine occurs (camp or elsewhere), who is quarantined including potential distinctions between people who have a medically documented reason for not being immunized (e.g. immune-compromised) versus those whose parents chose not to immunize, etc.
  3. Understand the facts about the disease. Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. Measles can be serious — even fatal — for young children. While rare, it can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death. People exposed to measles who have not been vaccinated almost always get measles.
  4. Understand why there has been an outbreak in the United States. As of February 2015, 150 new cases of measles have been reported across 16 states in the United States. Public health officials have declared that the disease has spread in part because of lower rates of vaccination in certain parts of the U.S.
  5. Ensure you have educated healthcare staff. While only a physician can diagnose measles, ensure that your healthcare staff understand the symptoms and have procedures in place to immediately seek medical care if measles are suspected.
  6. Consider tracking the percent of immunized campers and staff at your camp.  This may be important information for parents of children who cannot be immunized; it helps them understand the potential risk exposure for their child. Use data from last season if tracking this season’s percent is challenging. 

Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism.  The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.  We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.
— Rob Ring, Chief Science Officer, Autism Speaks

Measles Symptoms

Measles begins with an increasing fever, then coughing, runny nose, redness of the eyes, and finally, a rash breaks out. The rash usually starts on the head and then spreads to the rest of the body. Fever can persist, reaching extremely high temperatures, rash can last for up to a week, and coughing can last about 10 days.

How Measles Are Spread

Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.

People exposed to measles who have not been vaccinated almost always get measles. Measles is one of the most contagious diseases known. It is a virus that mainly spreads by direct contact with airborne respiratory droplets. For example, if someone who is contagious coughs or sneezes near someone who is susceptible, the susceptible person is very likely to get measles.