What Is Measles? – Symptoms, Transmission and Complications

Measles is an extremely contagious disease caused by a virus. It can lead to death as many complications might arise like pneumonia and encephalitis. It is characterized by rashes all over the body.

measles

Who can be affected by Measles?

It is mostly children who are affected. However, the virus can be contracted at any age if the adult is not immunized. Most people are now immunized against the disease. Those who have not been vaccinated are 22 times more likely to get infected by the measles virus than those who have been subject to two measles vaccines.

Transmission of Measles

Measles is highly contagious a disease. The virus thrives in the nose mucus as well as the mucus found in the throat. Hence, the measles virus gets transmitted via sneezes and coughs. What exacerbates it further is the fact that the droplets emitted into the air remain active and can be transmitted to people from up to two hours after having remained in air.

Symptoms of Measles

The disease has two stages.

Stage one of Measles

  • Lasting 2-4 days
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Slight fever
  • Red eyes
  • Eyes sensitive to light
  • Fever gradually rises
  • Koplik spots (small blue spots surrounded by red areas) appearing on gum and inside of cheeks

Second stage of Measles

  • 3-7 days later
  • Red blotchy rash (staying for 5-6 days)
  • Rash starts forming on the face
  • Spread of rashes all over body till hands and feet
  • Rashes later fade
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged lymph glands

Since when do infected people remain contagious?

An infected person is able to transmit the measles virus around 4 days before the appearance of rashes, and 4 days after rash onset.

Complications due to Measles

In 30 % of cases arise complications. These are more common in children less than 5 years old, and adults older than 20 years old. Of this proportion, around 6 % cases entail pneumonia. Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) may also occur.
Other less common complications involve middle ear infection, diarrhea and seizures.
Pregnant women too are prone to developing complications: low-weight of babies at birth, premature birth, miscarriage, and birth defects.

Treatment for Measles?

No particular treatment exists.

Immunity against Measles

Once infected with the virus, the person develops immunity which stays for a lifetime; that is, if the person gets infected again, he is not affected by the disease because his immune system will initiate an effective immune response to do away with the virus.

Vaccination against Measles

The vaccine for measles is recommended for mostly everyone, except those who have not been infected before confirming that they have already developed immunity against the measles virus.

Does the measles vaccines cause autism?

The vaccine against measles is the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. No evidence as such exists to back up the claim that the vaccine causes autism.

Preventive methods to prevent the infection

Infected people should not go to work or school during the time period when they can infect others. Those vulnerable to contracting the disease should be vaccinated, or provided with Immuno Globulin (IG).

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