Measles, we all know, is one of the leading causes of death, especially among young children. A safe and cost-effective vaccine is available for measles, yet the disease remains a major problem to fight against. It is a serious disease. Unlike dengue and chikungunya, measles is highly contagious. It is caused by the measles virus. Initial symptoms of measles include fever over 104 °F, runny nose, inflamed eyes and cough.
It is an air-borne disease. It is a disease or viral infection of the respiratory system. Thus, through coughing and sneezing of those who are infected, the disease spreads easily. The disease also spreads with contact through saliva and nasal secretions. No specific treatment is available but supportive care improves outcome, such as oral rehydration solution, healthy diet and medications to alleviate symptoms like fever.
The people who get measles are majorly unvaccinated.
Symptoms of Measles
Initial symptoms are runny nose, cough, high fever and red eyes. The classic signs of measles are the four D’s and three C’s: four-day fevers and cough, conjunctivitis and coryza. After the onset of symptoms, white spots may appear 2–3 days later in the mouth called Koplik’s spots. After 3–5 days of the onset of symptoms, red and flat rashes start to appear on the face spreading slowly throughout the body. After exposure to the infected person, the symptoms of measles start to appear usually 10–12 days later lasting from 7 to 10 days. Only in 30% cases, complications occur like diarrhea, pneumonia, inflammation of the brain and blindness.
The measles virus lives for long on the surfaces. As soon the infected particles enter the air, they settle on the surfaces and anyone in close proximity becomes infected. Sharing drinking glasses and eating utensils of an infected person increases the risk of infection.
Contact the doctor as soon you observe the above signs and symptoms.
Causes of Measles
Measles virus causes measles. Humans are the only known hosts of the virus. The virus spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. Risk factors associated with it include immunodeficiency diseases, immunosuppression, travel to measles endemic area and the loss of inherited antibodies.
Diagnosis and treatment of Measles
The diagnosis starts with knowing the symptoms and physical examination of the patient. The 3C’s and 4D’s is the best measure for starting diagnosis for the doctors. For lab testing, the patient’s blood is drawn and checked for the presence of positive IgM antibodies. If blood drawing from the patient is difficult or the patient is unable to give, then the saliva sample can be collected.
The sample will be collected from your place by ordering on www.nextdoorlab.com. The sample collection from home is a free service. For any doctor consultation, please give a missed call on 0124-222-3197.
There is no specific treatment for measles. There is also no medication for the disease. The symptoms usually disappear within 2–3 weeks. For alleviating the symptoms like fever and muscle aches, the doctors prescribe acetaminophen. Take plenty of rest to boost your immune system. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, at least 8 glasses of water a day. Vitamin A supplements are also prescribed for preventing eye problems.
Remember to not give aspirin to the child with viral illness.
Prevention of Measles
Immunizations can help in prevention. There is vaccine used for all three: measles, rubella and mumps, called MMR vaccine. Generally, infants 12 months old are given this vaccination. The second dose of the vaccine is given between 4 and 6 years of age. People who have never received their vaccine can request the doctor for the vaccination. Limit your contact with infected people.
Getting the vaccine as per schedule is best for children who can receive it, as certain people fail to receive.
The vaccine for measles sometimes results in side effects like fever lasting for 6-12 days and a measles-like rash on the body in the kids. These symptoms disappear in few days and are not contagious.
If you are pregnant, if kids have a history of severe allergic reactions to gelatin or neomycin antibiotic, if you have a compromised immune system and if the kid is not treated for tuberculosis and leukemia or other cancers should not be vaccinated with measles vaccines.
Remember that the disease – measles – is preventable through scheduled and routine childhood immunization.