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Measles: Unprotected Story

106 Degrees: A True Story

True story

We spent 3 days in the hospital fearing we might lose our baby boy... We spent a week [at home] waking at all hours to stay on schedule with fever reducing medications and soothing him with damp wash cloths.

If you hear "106 degrees" you probably think "heat wave," not a baby's temperature. But for Megan Campbell's 10-month-old son, a life-threatening bout of measles caused fevers spiking to 106 degrees and sent him to the hospital.

"After picking our son up at child care because he had a fever," says Megan, "we went straight to our pediatrician who said our baby had a virus. Two days later, his fever hit 104 degrees and a rash appeared on his head."

The rash quickly crept down to his arms and chest. Megan and husband Chris turned to the Internet. Finding pictures of measles that looked like their son's rash, they rushed him to the local children's hospital.

"No one there had seen or tested for measles for about 17 years," says Megan. "And no one expected it in the year 2008 in the United States. The next day, an infectious disease specialist confirmed measles.

"We spent 3 days in the hospital fearing we might lose our baby boy. He couldn't drink or eat, so he was on an IV, and for a while he seemed to be wasting away. When he began to be able to drink again we got to take him home. But the doctors told us to expect the disease to continue to run its course, including high fever—which did spike as high as 106 degrees. We spent a week waking at all hours to stay on schedule with fever reducing medications and soothing him with damp wash cloths. Also, as instructed, we watched closely for signs of lethargy or non-responsiveness. If we'd seen that, we'd have gone back to the hospital immediately."

Thankfully, the baby recovered fully.

Megan now knows that her son was exposed to measles during his 10-month check-up, when another mother brought her ill son into the pediatrician's waiting room. An investigation found that the boy and his siblings had gotten measles overseas and brought it back to the United States. They had not been vaccinated.

"People who choose not to vaccinate their children actually make a choice for other children and put them at risk," Megan explains. "At 10 months, my son was too young to get the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. But when he was 12 months old, we got him the vaccine—even though he wasn't susceptible to measles anymore. This way, he won't suffer from mumps or rubella, or spread them to anyone else."

This story is one of many recounted in the fact sheets series, Diseases & the Vaccines that Prevent Them.

For other true stories, see Vaccines: Unprotected Stories.

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