Measles, also known as Rubeola, is a highly contagious viral infection that causes distinctive skin rashes, fever, cough and runny nose. Children are highly susceptible to this viral illness. As a result of effective vaccination and immunisation, measles is a rarity in the developed nations. However, due to the lack of vaccination, each year measles kills about a million children in the developing nations. Usually, it is cured with substantial rest and supportive treatment, but in some cases, complications like pneumonia, ear infections, bronchitis and encephalitis may arise.
If a person is not immunised for measles through vaccination, there is a very high possibility of him/her getting affected by this virus. The viral infection gets transmitted when a healthy individual comes in contact with droplets from the mouth, nose or throat of a measles infected person. Also, when the infected person sneezes or coughs, he/she releases contaminated droplets in the air, and the individuals inhaling this air are likely to catch the infection.
- Muscle pain
- Red, painful and watery eyes
- Skin rashes
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Tiny white spots inside the mouth (Koplik’s spots)
Generally, the outbreak lasts for about two weeks. Though there is no specific treatment for this illness, there are some measures that should be taken to ease down the symptoms:
1. Let the child rest, in fact, bed rest would be ideal
2. Use a humidifier or vaporizer to ease the cough
3. Take medication to reduce fever
4. Increase fluid intake
When a person develops measles, he/she is given measles antibodies in the form of injections. If given within six days of exposure the person gets protection against the sickness. As a result further outbreak is prevented. Also, the patient is vaccinated when illness is identified within 72 hours. In many cases, the patients are given vitamin A supplements, as vitamin A reduces the chances of complications and death.
Vaccination and prevention:
Measles can be prevented through vaccination, which is given to the infant only when he/she is twelve months old. However, if an infant of less than one year is infected by the virus, the infant is vaccinated. This immunisation is followed by a routine vaccination at the age of 12 to 15 months, and later at the age of 4 to 6 years. The vaccine should not be given to pregnant ladies and to the people whose natural immune system is suppressed by any reason. Vaccination for measles should also not be given to children who are allergic to gelatin or to the antibiotic neomycin, otherwise there could be some serious allergic reactions. At times the vaccination may show some side effects like fever and skin rashes but these side effects are often mild and fade away in some time.