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Key Information About Measles

Updated on September 8, 2019
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Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.

Measles is a dangerous, contagious childhood rash / fever respiratory infection that can spread rapidly.

It is making a comeback in many developed nations including the USA and still rampant in some poorer countries like DRC and Madagascar.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source

[Globally,] more than 100,000 children die each year [due to measles], or about 300 children per day. Measles can also cause lifelong disability [such as deafness].

— Dr. William Moss, Pediatrician, Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Causes

Measles is caused by paramyxovirus, a family of viruses in the order Mononegavirale. If this acute contagious disease enters an area where the people have never been exposed, the result can be devastating.

It only takes one person to bring the virus into an otherwise measles-free zone.

Paramyxovirus replicates in the nose and throat of the infected person. When the person coughs, sneezes or talks, infected droplets spray into the air, where other people can inhale them.

The virus can live in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours after a person with measles symptoms would have left the area.

Measles is caused by a virus and spreads very easily when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes.

It spreads so easily that someone who is not protected (either by being immunized or having had measles in the past) can get it if they walk into a room where someone with the disease has been in the past couple of hours.

— Washington State Department of Health

Symptoms

Measles symptoms don't appear until 10 to 14 days after exposure. A widespread skin rash, which lasts up to one week, is a classic sign of measles.

High fever, koplik spots on the buccal mucosa, malaise, cough, facial rash, runny nose, body rash and conjunctivitis are known symptoms of this infectious illness.

Source

Treatments

There is no treatment for measles. The virus and symptoms typically disappear within two to three weeks.

Doctors usually prescribe fever reducers and vitamin A supplements to treat symptoms. Acetaminophen may be used to treat fever and muscle aches.

If a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia or ear infection, develops while you have measles, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.

Consume plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Fluids reduce throat discomfort caused by coughing. Intravenous (IV) rehydration may be necessary if dehydration is severe.

Source

Complications

Diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, vomiting, middle ear infection, dehydration, febrile seizures, bronchitis, laryngitis and pneumonia are some common complications of measles.

"Roughly one quarter of cases will have some sort of complication as a result of measles. These complications range from ear infections and diarrhoea to pneumonia and encephalitis.

While in developed countries less than 1% of cases die, fatality rates can rise to 3-5% in some African and Asian countries.

Complications are more likely in children less than 5 years of age (in up to 40% of cases) and in adults (in up to 30% of cases), and are more severe in those with malnutrition, HIV, or immune deficiencies.

Before the first vaccine was licensed in 1963, measles killed more than 2 million children globally each year" said Dr. Robert Perry, World Health Organization.

Measles is an infectious viral disease usually associated with fever and a red rash. But it can be much worse. Some people suffer severe complications, such as pneumonia or encephalitis (swelling of the brain).

Prevention

Measles is best prevented by MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) combination vaccine or MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella and varicella) combination vaccine.

Generally, toddlers get their first MMR vaccine when they are around one year old.

One MMR vaccine provides around 93 percent protection against measles. A second booster dose enhances the effectiveness of the vaccine to more than 97 percent.

If MMR vaccine is not suitable for you, HNIG can be used if you are at immediate risk of catching measles.

"Measles vaccine is safe, effective, and offers excellent protection. If you aren't sure if you're up to date with the recommended doses of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR), see your health care provider and get a dose of MMR if needed," said Jeff Duchin, Professor, Medicine - Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Adjunct Professor, Epidemiology; Health Officer, Public Health Seattle and King County; Faculty, Northwest Center for Public Health Practice.

In April 2019, the WHO said measles cases were up 300 percent so far in 2019 compared with the first quarter of 2018.

Is your family vaccinated against measles?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R

Comments

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    • srirad0675 profile imageAUTHOR

      Srikanth R 

      2 months ago

      Thank you.

    • srirad0675 profile imageAUTHOR

      Srikanth R 

      2 months ago

      Thank you.

    • profile image

      anitashaw5312 

      2 months ago

      Its a really nice post with great information. It’s so many helpful tips…

    • profile image

      Anita Shaw 

      2 months ago

      Thanks for sharing useful information for us.I really enjoyed reading your blog, you have lots of great content.

    • srirad0675 profile imageAUTHOR

      Srikanth R 

      6 months ago

      Unfortunate.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      6 months ago from UK

      It is sad that a minority who refuse to get their children vaccinated are putting their children and others at risk. I recently saw a report on the news of how a girl's life had been blighted by measles.

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