What is measles?
Measles is a contagious infection caused by
a virus. Measles was once common, but because of immunization it
is now fortunately becoming very rare.
How is measles spread?
Measles is spread very easily from person to
person, when droplets of the virus are circulated through the air
from an infected person coughing or sneezing. Another person then
breathes in the virus and may become infected.
What are the symptoms of measles?
The symptoms of measles usually begin to develop
about 7-11 days after the person first becomes infected. The first
symptoms are normally similar to those of a bad cold: fever, runny
nose, sore throat and a cough. A few days later a bright red, blotchy
rash breaks out on the forehead, face and neck. Within a few days
the rash spreads to the body, arms and legs, by which time the rash
will begin to fade from the face. When the rash breaks out, you
may also develop conjunctivitis.
Yes, measles is highly contagious and before immunization was available it would cause epidemics in
schools. Once you have had measles you will develop an immunity to it and will not contract it again.
How is measles treated?
As measles is a virus, there is no specific
treatment to cure the infection. However, resting and drinking plenty
of non-alcoholic fluid will help you to feel better. Your doctor
and/or pharmacist will be able to recommend over the counter treatments
to ease the symptoms of measles.
Do I need to see a doctor?
If you have measles you will need to visit your
doctor, but ensure you tell the surgery when you phone that you
or your child has suspected measles as they may send a doctor out
to see you.
If after the initial diagnosis you have any
of the following symptoms you should again consult your doctor:
- A harsh cough.
- Trouble staying awake.
- Difficulty in hearing.
- Pain in the ears.
What are the effects of measles?
Occasionally, measles can lead to many different
complications, including pneumonia and ear
infections. However, 1 child
in a 1000 with measles will go on to develop encephalitis or meningitis,
which can be fatal or cause disabilities such as deafness.
can I prevent getting measles?
is easily prevented by a vaccineA. The vaccine is normally given
to babies between 12-15 months, along with a vaccine for mumps and German
measles (known as M.M.R.). booster is then given before
the child starts school.