Measles is a viral infection caused by paramyxovirus
family and presents with a respiratory infection, fever, conjunctivitis
and a rash.
Measles is a very contagious illness. It is a notifiable disease and its complications can be serious and significant, especially in infants, pregnant women and immunocompromised people.
Measles can occur at any age when a person has not been immunised or when a baby no longer gets maternal antibodies
from breast feeding
Incubation or the infectious period is approximately 10 days. Starting from the onset of symptoms (fever, malaise, runny nose
cough and conjunctivitis
) to 4 days after the onset of the rash.
The duration of the illness is approximately 1 to 3 weeks.
Measles during pregnancy
can be harmful to the mothercausing respiratory problems, and cause miscarriage
, premature labour
and low birth weight
'Koplik' spots appear in the mouth a few days before the rash. Koplik spots are red spots with a white centre mostly seen on the inside of cheeks. The rash appears a few days after the 'Koplik' spots. A red blotchy rash, where the spots start to merge and that initially appear on the face, behind the ears and extend gradually to the neck, the thorax and the body within 3 to 4 days. The rash lasts for 5 - 7 days.
All the other above symptoms above persist including a high fever. As the rash fades it can leave a brown discolouration and shedding of skin cells.The fever disappears except in case of complications.
- The child can remain contagious until the total disappearance of the rash.
Treatment of measles
In uncomplicated cases the illness will resolve itself, but Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are useful in controlling a fever and alleviating the other symptoms. Antibiotic treatment is prescribed where secondary infections are present. Keep hydrated - encouraging fluids regularly and rest.
Complications of Measles
- Ear infections
- Bronchitis, bronchopeumonia, respiratory failure ....
- Acute encephalitis (1 case out of 1.000 Measles ) and Measles meningoencephalitis
- Measles can sometimes cause death. Many occurring worldwide in developing countries.
- Complications, some of which can be severe, can sometimes very rarely appear many years after the initial infection of Measles.