Measles is a viral disease that causes fever and skin rashes. The disease is not restricted to children, adults too can develop measles. Once quite common, measles can now be prevented with a vaccine. The virus responsible for the disease replicates in the nose and throat of an infected child. When an infected individual coughs or sneezes, the virus is sprayed into the air. This air can be inhaled by someone else who gets infected too.
The viruses in the sneeze droplets remain active and infectious for several hours. A person who comes in contact with these droplets is at a risk of developing the disease.
The symptoms of measles appear 10 to 14 days after the exposure to the virus. Most common symptoms include:
- Conjunctivitis (Red eyes)
- Runny nose
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Tiny white spots on the inner lining of the cheek
- Blotchy skin rash
Ear infection: The most common complication of measles is a bacterial ear infection.
Bronchitis: Measles might cause an inflammation of the inner walls of the bronchial tubes.
Pneumonia: Pneumonia is commonly associated with measles as the disease weakens the immune system, making the body vulnerable to opportunistic pathogens.
Pregnancy problems: Pregnant women need to take special care to avoid measles as it can cause premature labor, low birth weight or even miscarriages.
Laryngitis: Measles may lead to inflammation of the larynx.
Low platelet count: Measles may cause a fall in the platelet count.
There is no medicine to treat measles. The symptoms subside within 3 weeks. However, some measures can be taken to protect vulnerable individuals who have been exposed to the virus.
Post-exposure vaccination: Infants can receive the vaccine within 3 days of exposure to the measles virus . The vaccination reduces the severity of the symptoms, if at all measles develops.
Immune serum globulin: This is an antibody given to offer immediate, but temporary protection to people who are unable to receive the measles vaccine. Immune serum global is used when pregnant women, babies and people with impaired immune systems are exposed to the measles virus, and need immediate protection. These antibodies can prevent measles or make the symptoms less severe.
Antipyretics: The fever associated with measles can be reduced using OTC drugs such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.
Antibiotics: The doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics if he/she suspects an ear infection or pneumonia.
Vitamin A: Low levels of vitamin A increases the severity of measles’ symptoms. Giving vitamin A may lessen the severity of the measles.
Dr. Deepak patel