Measles is an infection of the respiratory system which is caused by a virus. Measles is also known as Rubeola or Morbilli, which are the scientific names given to the disease. The symptoms of measles range from cough, common cold, runny nose, reddening of eyes or a mild rash. The disease generally spreads through respiration, which include the physical contact with another infected person’s nose or mouth, directly or indirectly. Measles is highly contagious and it is advised not to share the same space with a person who has contracted the disease. This warning is especially given to those who have no immunity from the disease. The disease lasts anywhere from a maximum of fourteen to nineteen days. The infectivity of the disease lasts from two to four days while the rash begins to occur on the fifth day. The scientific name given to measles also known as English Measles is Rubeola, this is often confused with Rubella also known as the German Measles.
According to reports of the Centre of Disease Control (CDC), measles has reportedly reached its peak since 1997. Within this year, more than 45% cases have been reported so far, which is much higher than the cases reported last year. It is feared that most of these cases have been the result of non-vaccination or refusal to vaccinate children by parents.
There are two known types of Measles; both are caused by different viruses. The rubeola virus causes “red measles,” also known as “hard measles” or just “measles.” Although most people recover without problems, rubeola can lead to pneumonia or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). The rubella virus causes “German measles,” also known as “three-day measles.” This is usually a milder disease than red measles. However, this virus can cause significant birth defects if an infected pregnant woman passes the virus to her unborn child.
Symptoms of Measles
Measles begins in an early phase with a bout of fever, cough, conjunctivitis and loss of appetite. These are known to be the earliest symptoms of Measles. In the later stages the rash begins to spread to the trunk and then to the arms and legs. The rash forms reddish bumps on the skin and is usually not itchy and also has the tendency to clear up.
Although red measles is usually a mild disease, a few serious complications may occur. Red measles may make patients prey to pneumonia and bacterial ear infections. Pneumonia as a complication of measles is mostly serious in infants and is responsible for most deaths in this age group.
German measles causes milder symptoms than red measles. The incubation period between getting the virus and getting sick is 10 days to 2 weeks. Initially, some people experience fatigue, low-grade fever, headache, or red eyes several days before the rash appears. These symptoms are more common in adults than in children.
In most developed countries, children are immunized against this virus within 18 months. Immunization (vaccination) is a method of developing immunity to certain diseases by using small amounts of a killed or weakened microorganism that causes the particular disease.
The vaccination from measles forms a part of the three-part MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella). The vaccinations are not given earlier for the simple reason before 18 months usually because the baby retains the antibodies that are transmitted during pregnancy. However, there is no specific prevention or treatment that is made available for measles. Bed rest and a supplementary supportive treatment are more or less enough for the treatment of measles. Medical advice is necessary and incase the condition of the patient deteriorates they may develop complications.
Treatment of Measles
The treatment of measles is relatively simple. It is best to maintain complete bed rest during this period and provide quieter activities for the child. It’s best to clean the eye secretions with slightly warm saline water. Additionally, administer antipruritic medication and tepid sponge baths as ordered. A normal mist vaporizer can be used to relieve cough.
Among other treatments for measles, it is best to get oneself vaccinated. Generally two doses of live measles vaccine are recommended, one shot at 15 months of age, and the second shot before entering either kindergarten or first grade. The re-vaccination guidelines for measles are as follows: Persons vaccinated with live measles vaccine before their first birthday should be considered unvaccinated, and should receive at least one dose of measles vaccine.