Measles is a common viral infection caused by the Paramyxovirus, usually seen in children under the age of 5. This viral infection is largely under non-existent due to a widely available and implemented MMR vaccine. In those children who do get infected, however, it may in rare cases prove to be serious.
The virus for mumps can be spread by direct contact with oral or nasal secretions or via talking, sneezing or coughing through air droplets. Unvaccinated individuals, travelers and people deficient in vitamin A are, particularly at risk.
The symptoms of this health condition appear 10 to 14 days after the infection. These typically include:
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Koplik spots -tiny white spots with blue centers on a red background inside the mouth
- Skin rash
The flu-like symptoms of runny nose, sore throat and fever come first followed by the characteristic measles rash that begins with the face and spreads all over the body often alongside high spiking fever. The rash and fever then eventually fades as the infection subsides. Four days before the rash has begun until four days after the rash is present, the infection is highly contagious and can spread rapidly from person to person.
Complications of measles include:
- Ear infections
- Bronchitis or laryngitis
- Pregnancy problems
- Low platelet count
Diagnosis of this health condition is a clinical one and can usually be made without any additional diagnostic tests. If necessary, blood tests can be done to confirm measles.
Measles treatment is usually reserved for people exposed to the virus and at risk of contracting the infection. These interventions include post-exposure vaccination and immune serum globulins. Once measles is present, no treatment can cure the infection and relief of the viral symptoms occurs with time. Isolation of the patient is important to prevent spreading of measles.