Measles, also known as rubeola, is a highly contagious respiratory infection, caused by the measles virus. Though uncommon in the United States due to widespread use of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, measles is a serious threat worldwide.
Signs of measles usually begin about seven to 14 days after a person is infected. Much like other viruses, measles symptoms begin with a fever, runny nose and cough with sore throat. Other symptoms include:
Following the initial symptoms, the Koplik's spots in the mouth are the next symptom to appear. This symptom is then followed by a red or reddish-brown blotchy rash that covers the whole body. The measles rash usually starts on the forehead. It then works its way down over the face, neck and trunk of the body. Finally, the rash spreads down the limbs, to the hands and feet.
Measles is extremely contagious and is spread through contact with infected droplets passed through coughing or sneezing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine has reduced the number of Measles cases in the United States by 99 percent or more. This is a great improvement, when you consider the millions of cases seen each year before the vaccine.
There is a combination vaccination that also covers varicella, the disease more commonly known as chicken pox (MMRV). Your doctor will determine which is best for your child. Children should receive two vaccinations, once at 12 to 15 months, and the other at 4 to 6 years of age.
Because measles is a viral infection, antibiotics will not be prescribed, and there is no other specific medical treatment for measles. However, there are methods you can take for alleviating discomfort associated with symptoms, including the following:
If a child is suffering from severe symptoms or is hospitalized, he may be given doses of vitamin A, which is thought to ease symptoms. Keep an eye out for complications that could occur with measles, such as ear infections, pneumonia or encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Contact your physician with any concerns or questions you may have.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Staff. (2009). Overview of measles disease. Retrieved December 23, 2009, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/overview.html.
Gavin, M. (2008). Infections: Measles. Retrieved December 23, 2009, from the Kids Health Web site: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/measles.html#.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Measles. Retrieved December 23, 2009, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/measles/DS00331.
information on health-related topics, not medical advice, diagnosis or
treatment recommendations. Please consult your physician if you have questions