Health

Measles disease

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of infected persons. Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10-12 days after infection, include high fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards. There is no specific treatment for measles and most people recover within 2-3 weeks. However, particularly in malnourished children and people with reduced immunity, measles can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection, and pneumonia. Measles can be prevented by immunization. 

The infection occurs in a sequence of stages during a period of two to three weeks.

Infection and incubation. For the first 10 to 14 days after you’re infected, the measles virus incubates. You have no signs or symptoms of measles during this time.

Nonspecific signs and symptoms. Measles typically begins with a mild to moderate fever, often accompanied by a persistent cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis) and sore throat. This relatively mild illness may last two or three days.

Acute illness and rash. The rash consists of small red spots, some of which are slightly raised. Spots and bumps in tight clusters give the skin a splotchy red appearance. The face breaks out first.

Over the next few days, the rash spreads down the arms and trunk, then over the thighs, lower legs and feet. At the same time, the fever rises sharply, often as high as 104 to 105.8 F (40 to 41 C). The measles rash gradually recedes, fading first from the face and last from the thighs and feet.

Communicable period. A person with measles can spread the virus to others for about eight days, starting four days before the rash appears and ending when the rash has been present for four days.

Causes

Measles is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus that replicates in the nose and throat of an infected child or adult. Then, when someone with measles coughs, sneezes or talks, infected droplets spray into the air, where other people can inhale them.

The infected droplets may also land on a surface, where they remain active and contagious for several hours. You can contract the virus by putting your fingers in your mouth or nose or rubbing your eyes after touching the infected surface.

About 90% of susceptible people who are exposed to someone with the virus will be infected.

Risk factors

Risk factors for measles include:

• Being unvaccinated. If you haven’t received the vaccine for measles, you’re much more likely to develop the disease.

• Traveling internationally. If you travel to developing countries, where measles is more common, you’re at higher risk of catching the disease.

• Having a vitamin A deficiency. If you don’t have enough vitamin A in your diet, you’re more likely to have more-severe symptoms and complications.

Complications

Complications of measles may include:

• Ear infection. One of the most common complications of measles is a bacterial ear infection.

• Bronchitis, laryngitis or croup. Measles may lead to inflammation of your voice box (larynx) or inflammation of the inner walls that line the main air passageways of your lungs (bronchial tubes).

• Pneumonia. Pneumonia is a common complication of measles. People with compromised immune systems can develop an especially dangerous variety of pneumonia that is sometimes fatal.

• Encephalitis. About 1 in 1,000 people with measles develops a complication called encephalitis. Encephalitis may occur right after measles, or it might not occur until months later.

• Pregnancy problems. If you’re pregnant, you need to take special care to avoid measles because the disease can cause preterm labor, low birth weight and maternal death.

Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children and adults receive the measles vaccine to prevent measles.

Measles vaccine in children

To prevent measles in children, doctors usually give infants the first dose of the vaccine between 12 and 15 months, with the second dose typically given between ages 4 and 6 years. Keep in mind:

• If you’ll be traveling abroad when your child is 6 to 11 months old, talk with your child’s doctor about getting the measles vaccine earlier.

• If your child or teenager didn’t get the two doses at the recommended times, he or she may need two doses of the vaccine four weeks apart.

If someone in your household has measles, take these precautions to protect vulnerable family and friends:

• Isolation. Because measles is highly contagious from about four days before to four days after the rash breaks out, people with measles shouldn’t return to activities in which they interact with other people during this period.

• It may also be necessary to keep nonimmunized people — siblings, for example — away from the infected person.

Vaccinate. Be sure that anyone who’s at risk of getting the measles who hasn’t been fully vaccinated receives the measles vaccine as soon as possible. This includes infants older than 6 months and anyone born in 1957 or later who doesn’t have written documentation of being vaccinated, or who doesn’t have evidence of immunity or having had measles in the past.

References…

www.WebMd.com Measles FAQ: Symptoms, Prevention, and More

www.Mayoclinic.com ( Measles)

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