Measles is the most contagious virus we know of

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Public health departments will need ‘to put their foot down’ on people refusing vaccinations

Measles outbreaks continue to spread throughout the country, now exceeding 150 cases across 10 states, including four confirmed cases in Champaign, Ill. Northwestern Medicine infectious disease expert Dr. Robert Murphy can speak to the media about the virus, how contagious it is, how quickly it can spread and the problems that can arise when people don’t get vaccinated.

“Measles is the most contagious virus we know of. It spreads very fast,” said Murphy, a professor of medicine in infectious diseases at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “In a city like Chicago, which has the busiest airport and people are consistently traveling in and out, the virus could spread really fast.”

Murphy is available for phone and local on-camera interviews. He can be reached by phone at (mobile) 312-404-1352 or rmurphy@northwestern.edu.

“These recent outbreaks are going to percolate through the public health departments, and health officials are going to have to put their foot down on the people not taking these vaccinations,” Murphy said.

In light of recent news that some state lawmakers are considering eliminating vaccination exemptions for religious and personal beliefs because of public health concerns, Murphy reflected on the mini measles epidemics that broke out in California in 2015, which prompted state lawmakers to change their public health laws.

“The trouble with people who don’t get vaccinated is they expose everybody,” Murphy said, explaining that a person who has been infected with measles can be contagious to others for four days before they even experience any symptoms. “If they don’t suspect they have anything, they can expose everyone in the emergency room.”

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