What you need to know about measles

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Measles are triggered by one of the highly contagious viruses identified. It is a condition that can range in severity from mild to life-threatening. Take note that the virus spreads via the air when the individual coughs or sneezes or when someone touches an infected surface and touches the nose, eyes or mouth. The virus can live up to 2 hours on a surface or in the air.

The vaccine utilized in preventing measles was developed back in 1963 and the virus was completely eradicated by the year 2000. Nevertheless, there are still some infected individuals in underdeveloped countries which allowed the virus to make a comeback. Globally, measles is still one of the leading causes of death among children.

Symptoms of measles

Take note that the virus spreads via the air when the individual coughs or sneezes or when someone touches an infected surface and touches the nose, eyes or mouth.

Within 7-14 days of acquiring the measles virus, an infected individual typically develops some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fever (usually 102-104 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Watery and red eyes
  • Rash that starts in the face and hairline and spreads downward
  • Tiny white spots inside the mouth

What are the complications of measles?

Measles can be quite serious and even result to death. Some individuals who develop measles will end up with one or more complications linked to the illness.

The complications from measles infection are more likely to occur in children below the age of 5 years old or adults over 20 years old. The condition is more likely to occur among individuals who have a weakened immune system, vitamin A deficiency or malnutrition. The common complications include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Ear infections
  • Dehydration
  • Encephalitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Among pregnant women, measles can cause miscarriage, premature birth or low birth weight
  • Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a rare and deadly disease involving the central nervous system
  • Death

Treatment of measles

Since measles is caused by a virus, the condition cannot be cured using antibiotics or other medications. Any form of treatment aim to minimize the severity of the symptoms. These treatment options include the following:

  • Administration of medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce the fever and reduce the severity of the body aches
  • Intravenous fluids to treat or prevent dehydration
  • Provide adequate nutrition including vitamin A supplements

Preventive measures

Remember that measles can be prevented, but only through vaccination. Doctors consider the vaccine safe and effective. The issue on the so-called link between the MMR vaccines with autism has been discredited.

In most countries, the vaccine for measles is usually given as part of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. It is important to note that children typically receive the first dose at about 12 months of age and a booster shot (2nd dose) is given before entering kindergarten. The 2nd dose can be given earlier if needed as long as the two shots are at least 28 days apart.

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