The rise of measles cases overall in the U.S. has been widely reported on and includes, this year alone, outbreaks in California, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Although the disease was thought to be eradicated in the United States at the start of the 21st century, a resurgence has occurred in recent years, attributed in part to a resistance to vaccinations that stems from a study linking vaccinations to autism which has since been discredited. (Additionally, the researcher behind the study, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, lost his license to practice medicine in the U.K.)
Although thought of has a childhood disease, measles can affect individuals of any age. It is a highly contagious illness that can cause serious complications, particularly during pregnancy.
OSHA has published a new webpage on measles prevention for workers. Those who may be at higher risk for contracting measles are employed in healthcare and dentistry; childcare and schools; laboratories; and environmental services as well as those who are pregnant or who travel abroad.
Workers may be exposed to measles whenever the virus is circulating in the community. Some workers also may be exposed to infected individuals who arrive in the U.S. from abroad. Workers who perform services or other activities in homes in affected communities also may be exposed. Workers who have not received the measles vaccine or who have not had the disease can get measles if they are exposed.
Among the Quick Facts on the OSHA web page:
- Measles spreads easily from person to person, including through the air and on contaminated surfaces.
- According to the CDC, the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and highly effective.
- The best way to prevent workers from getting measles on the job is to encourage workers at risk of exposure to get the MMR vaccine.