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Measles outbreak scares families throughout the US

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It's common for people to come down with a cold or the flu when winter is in full force. Stuffy noses and sore throats are sometimes inevitable in the cold months when families are stuck indoors where germs and bacteria can harbor. However, this winter, some families are experiencing a different kind of illness - measles. An outbreak of the virus started back in December in California and has been spreading ever since. 

"There have been close to 50 confirmed cases of measles since December."

The origin of the virus
Between Dec. 15 and 20, the first round of the recent measles outbreak spread through Disneyland in Anaheim, California. While the first person to bring the virus to the theme park has not yet been identified, it has been concluded that it started within that time frame, and the paths of those affected have been tracked for precautionary purposes. Since then, there have been close to 50 confirmed cases - most of which are in California. Other affected locations include Mexico, Colorado, Washington and Utah, and the area could expand even more as time goes on. 

Measles is one of the most contagious viruses in existence, and symptoms might not show until as far as 21 days after exposure. What starts out as classic symptoms of a cold can quickly progress into white spots inside the mouth, and eventually a telltale rash will develop all over the person's body. While it can be difficult to distinguish the early signs of measles from a standard cold, itchy, watery eyes and a high fever could signal that it's something more serious.

"Just two doses of the vaccine is 99 percent effective in preventing the disease."

How you can stay protected
The measles virus is easily spread through the air, and the germs can stay on surfaces long after the infected person has left the room. The best way to keep measles from affecting your household is to get vaccinated. Follow the vaccine guidelines provided by your doctor to stay protected. Typically, the measles vaccine is administered when one is an infant, and then again during childhood. Just two doses of the vaccine is 99 percent effective in preventing the disease.

The recent outbreak can be due in part to the anti-vaccine movement, in which parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children. While some speculate that vaccines can cause autism in children, there's no evidence that supports the claim. In fact, there has been a great deal of research that proves otherwise. Other groups avoid vaccines for spiritual reasons, and feel that certain medical practices go against their beliefs.

Aside from vaccines, there are many other methods you can practice to stay healthy. For starters, regularly wash your hands, and instruct everyone in your family to do the same. Constantly wash surfaces in your home with cleaners or use natural methods like vinegar and lemons, which can help disinfect your home without the use of harsh chemicals. Additionally, keep an air purifier, like the Holmes® Smart Air Purifier with WeMo®, running to trap airborne particles that can cause irritation. For even more comfort, use a humidifier to keep the air from over-drying and causing irritation.