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Measles Disease: Symptoms, Causes and Diagnosis

Measles is often caused during childhood. The infection is usually caused by virus.  Once quite common, measles can now almost always be prevented with a vaccine. Yet the possibilities of measles occurring are still under threat.

Also called rubeola, measles can be serious and even fatal for small children. While death rates have been falling worldwide as more children receive the measles vaccine, the disease still kills more than 100,000 people a year, most under the age of 5.

Although MMR vaccine is not a part of the national immunization schedule of India, it was introduced in the State immunization programme of Delhi in1999 as a single dose between 15-18 months (MMR-I). The Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) recommends the measles vaccine at 9 months of age.


Symptoms of Measles

Symptoms of measles generally first appear within 10 to 12 days of exposure to the virus. They include:

  • Runny Nose
  • Dry Hacking Cough
  • Conjunctivitis, Or Swollen Eyelids and Inflamed Eyes
  • Watery Eyes
  • Photophobia, Or Sensitivity to Light
  • Sneezing

A widespread skin rash is a classic sign of measles. This rash can last up to 7 days and generally appears within 14 days of exposure to the virus.

It commonly develops on the head and slowly spreads to other parts of the body. The symptoms may further include:

  • A Reddish-Brown Rash
  • Koplik’s spots, or very small greyish-white spots with bluish-white centres in the mouth, insides of cheeks, and throat
  • generalized body aches
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Runny Nose
  • Red Eyes
  • Sore Throat
  • White Spots Inside the Mouth

Fever is the most primary and common symptom. This can range from mild severe, up to 40.6 degrees Centigrade. It can last several days, forming rashes with fluctuating temperature.


Complications of Measles:

Complications of measles can subject the body to more deadlier diseases.

  1. Diarrhoea
  2. Vomiting
  3. Eye infection
  4. Respiratory tract infections, such as laryngitis and bronchitis
  5. Difficulty breathing
  6. Ear infections, which can lead to permanent hearing loss
  7. Febrile seizures

The weakened immune system can welcome measles with higher susceptibility of bacterial pneumonia. This can be fatal if not treated.


Least common complications to expect:

  • Thrombocytopenia, or low platelet count, affects the blood’s ability to clot. The patient may bruise easily.
  • Squint: Eye nerves and eye muscles may be affected.
  • Hepatitis: Liver complications can occur in adults and in children who are taking some medications.
  • Encephalitis: This affects around 1 in every 1,000 patients with measles. It is an inflammation of the brain that can sometimes be fatal. It may occur soon after measles, or several years later.

Complications to take note of:

  • Neuritis, an infection of the optic nerve that can lead to vision loss
  • Heart complications
  • Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE): A brain disease that can affect 2 in every 100,000 people, months or years after measles infection. Convulsions, motor abnormalities, cognitive issues, and death can occur.
  • Other nervous system complications include toxic encephalopathy, retrobulbar neuritis, transverse myelitis, and ascending myelitis.
  • Measles is caused by infection with a virus from the paramyxovirus family. Viruses are tiny parasitic microbes. Once you’ve been infected, the virus invades host cells and uses cellular components to complete its life cycle.
  • The measles virus infects the respiratory tract first. However, it eventually spreads to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.
  • Measles is only known to occur in humans and not in other animals. There are 24Trusted Source known genetic types of measles, although only 6 are currently circulating.


Diagnosis of Measles

Test and analysis of measles subjects’ doctor to usually diagnose it based on the disease’s characteristic rash as well as a small, bluish-white spot on bright red background — Koplik’s spot — on the inside lining of the cheek.

However, many doctors have never seen measles, and the rash can be confused with a number of other illnesses. Necessary measures such as a blood test can confirm whether the rash is truly measles.


Treatment of Measles

Measles often occurs in children, there’s no specific treatment for established measles infection. However, some measures can be taken to protect vulnerable individuals who have been exposed to the virus.

  1. Post-exposure vaccination. Nonimmunized people, including infants, may be given the measles vaccination within 72 hours of exposure to the measles virus to provide protection against the disease. If measles still develops, the illness usually has milder symptoms and lasts for a shorter time.
  2. Immune serum globulin. Pregnant women, infants and people with weakened immune systems who are exposed to the virus may receive an injection of proteins (antibodies) called immune serum globulin.
  3. When given within six days of exposure to the virus, these antibodies can prevent measles or make symptoms less severe.

Home remedies that can control measles:

If you and your family person are affected by measles, it is not the end of the world.

  • Take it easy. Get rest and avoid busy activities.
  • Sip something. Drink plenty of water, fruit juice and herbal tea to replace fluids lost by fever and sweating.
  • Seek respiratory relief. Use a humidifier to relieve a cough and sore throat.
  • Rest your eyes. If you or your child finds bright light bothersome, as do many people with measles, keep the lights low or wear sunglasses. Also, avoid reading or watching television if the light from a reading lamp or from the television is bothersome.


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