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Measles on children

Updated on November 7, 2008

Measles on children

Causes, signs, symptoms

A common contagious disease caused by virus, it is characterized by fever, colds, cough, and redness and swelling of the eyes. Pinhead sized reddish rashes usually appear 4 days after the onset of symptoms or at the height of fever. Signs and symptoms appear 10 to 14 days after exposure. This is a very com­municable disease even be­fore rashes appear and long after they disappear. All young children can have measles if not immunized.

It is a self-limiting viral disease. Once the child has the disease, he or she will not have the disease again.

Complications of Measles

  • 1. Malnourished children have some chances of becoming blind especially if they have vitamin A deficiency before they have measles.
  • 2. Respiratory infection

a. Bronchopneumonia

initially occur due to

the virus, but bronchitis and pneumo­nia due to secondary

bacterial infection

commonly occur later

especially if the child

has poor living conditions.

b. Tuberculosis can re­

cur or flare up dur­ing or after measles.

3. Infection in the ears (otitismedia); watery yellowish discharge from the ears may be observed during or after measles. •

4. Inflammation or damage with the brain (encepha­litis) a rare complication can occur once in 1,000 to 2,000 cases.

5. Inflammation of the lymph glands in the neck.

6. Death among young chil­dren; death rate is esti­mated to be 400 times more among malnour­ished children in devel­oping countries than in rich countries.


1. Isolate the sick child as soon as symptoms are observed and until rashes disappear.

2. Keep the sick child in bed and let him or her rest until fever is gone.

3. Give medicine for fever (aspirin or acetamino­phen) and steam inha­lation for the cough.

4. Let the child eat nutri­tious food like eggs, fish, oil, meat, milk, yellow and green vegetables, and others. It is important that the child has oil or fat in his or her diet for the vita­min A to be absorbed in the body.

The amount of vi­tamin A in the body goes down during illness. This leads to mildness if not treated. Give high dosage of vitamin A capsule (200,000 I.U.) for immediate treatment and repeat after 6 months. This dosage is not applicable for chil­dren below 2 years old.

5. Clean eyes with cooled boiled water with salt two to three times daily. Mother's milk may be used to clean the eyes.

6. When the fever is high, severe cough and diffi­culty of breathing are observed; most probably the child has pneumonia. Immediately consult a doctor or any health worker for possible complications.

7. If a child has primary complex (initial stage of tuberculosis in the lungs) characterized by poor appetite, low-grade fever in the afternoon or evening, loss of weight, and enlarged nodes (lymph glands) in the neck before or during measles, treat him or her adequately with antiTB drugs (INH) for an aver­age of one year (15-29 milligrams per kilogram body weight per day).

8. Give homemade salt and water solution for diar­rhea.

9. Watch for other complications like frequent convulsions, vomiting, and watery to yellowish discharge from the ears. Clean ears with hydro­gen peroxide.


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