Measles, or Rubella, is a contagious respiratory disease that can be spread through infected saliva or mucus. It is a viral infection that causes a full-body rash. It is caused in paramyxovirus family and can be passed on through direct contact. The virus infects the respiratory tract and thereby, spreads throughout the body. It survive only on human hosts and is not known to occur in animals. This is a viral infection that is serious for small children but is preventable by vaccines. It is a leading cause of death in children.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF MEASLES?
Measles is probably best known for full-body rash and the symptoms of measles always include fever with at least one of the three Cs – a Cough, Coryza, Conjunctivitis.
The main symptoms appear after an incubation period of 10-12 days, which includes:
- Running nose
- Dry hacking cough
- Conjunctivitis, or swollen eyelids and inflamed eyes
- Watery eyes
- Photophobia, or sensitivity to light
- A reddish-brown rash
- Koplik’s spots, or very small greyish-white spots with bluish-white centres in the mouth, insides of cheeks, and throat
- Generalized body aches
- A sore throat
Skin rash is the predominant sign of measles and can last up to seven days and generally appears within the first three to five days of exposure to the virus. The rashes appear as itchy, red bumps that develop on the head and then, spread throughout the body.
Children do have childhood rashes but all rashes are not measles, but if you have the following symptoms, the child should see the doctor:
- Common symptoms do not improve, or they get worse
- Fever rises to 100.4 F
WHAT ARE THE CAUSE OF MEASLES?
The causes are the virus that replicates in the nose or throat of an infected child.
The virus is called paramyxovirus, which gets transmitted through tiny droplets when an infected person coughs, breathes, sneezes.
A virus is airborne and therefore, is highly contagious. The disease is contagious for 4 days before the rash appears, therefore it continues to be contagious for about 4 to 5 days after.
WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS FROM MEASLES?
Complications from measles are very common but can be serious. People most at the risk of having measles have a weak immune system. Therefore the complications include:
- Eye infection
- Respiratory tract infections, such as laryngitis and bronchitis
- Difficulty Breathing
- Febrile Seizures
- Pregnancy Problems
Less common complications that are possible includes:
- Hepatitis – Liver complications
- Squint – Eye nerves and muscles complications
- Encephalitis – Inflammation of the brain
- Thrombocytopenia – Low platelet count
Complications that are very rare but are still possible includes:
HOW TO TREAT MEASLES?
Since measles spread through a virus, therefore there is no specific medical treatment for it. If there are no complications, the doctor will recommend you some rest and plenty of drinks to prevent dehydration.
The following measures can help you to treat measles:
- Control your child’s fever by using Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
- Avoid smoking near the child.
- Clean your eyes with warm, damp cloth if you have crustiness around the eyes.
- Provide your child with Vitamin A supplements, if they are at a high risk of measles.
HOW CAN WE PREVENT MEASLES?
Measles is prevented by the MMR vaccine. The vaccines protect against 3 diseases: measles, mumps and rubella.
CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.
Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.
The vaccine should not be taken by:
- Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon.
- People with a serious allergy to gelatin or neomycin, an antibiotic.
The current measles vaccine has to lead to a great reduction in measles cases as compared to the pre-vaccine era.