Measles – also known as Rubeola is a viral infection affecting the respiratory system. Measles is endemic in nature i.e. the infection is contagiously present in a community and several people are resistant against the disease. Once a person is infected by measles, they obtain the resistance against the infection for the rest of their life. It is very unlikely to get infected by the virus for the second time. Read on to know more about measles symptoms, causes, and treatment.
Overview (Measles Meaning)
In general, the virus can settle on any surface and live for several hours. Hence, when a person comes in contact with the virus, they can get infected. Measles can cause several complications and is considered a fatal infection, especially in children under five years of age. As per statistics, the death rate of the people infected by the virus is more than a 1,00,000 per year and unvaccinated people are affected more. Some parents do not get their children vaccinated assuming that it might cause side effects but in reality, adult or children who receive the vaccine do not experience any side effects. It has also been found out that children with Vitamin A deficiency are at a higher risk of getting infected by the virus.
How is Measles Spread?
Measles is an airborne disease which can spread through saliva and mucus of the infected person. The virus is released in the air when the infected person sneezes or coughs. It is commonly spread by:
- Using an infected person’s glass
- Sharing plates or cups with an infected person
- Being in close proximity of the infected person
Vaccine For Preventing Measles
Measles can now be prevented with an immunization. Due to high vaccination rates in recent years, measles infection has been limited. A study in USA found out that the instances of Measles had come down to an average of 60 cases a year from 2000 to 2010. However, the average number of cases has increased to 205 per year in recent times. The majority of these cases were in individuals who were not vaccinated. It is essential to get a Measles Rubella Vaccination since measles can cause severe complexities, like pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
Some common complications related to measles are:
- Ear infection
- Miscarriage (Read about Recurrent Pregnancy Loss)
- Preterm labor
- Decreased blood platelets count
Measles symptoms appear 10 to 14 days after one gets infected by the virus. Signs and symptoms of measles infection typically include:
- Red eyes
- Dry cough
- Runny nose
- Light sensitivity
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eyes)
- Small white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek
- Skin rash (Also, read about: Cure For Baby Rashes)
How to Treat Measles?
In general, there is no specific medication to treat measles infection. The symptoms of the virus typically disappear within three weeks. However, one can reduce the complications by implementing the following:
- Clinician advised prescription of acetaminophen medication to relieve muscle aches and fever
- Boosting the immune system (Read about: Foods That Can Boost Your Immunity )
- Consumption of fluids in large quantities (at least 6 to 8 glasses of water per day)
- Humidifier to ease a sore throat or cough
- Prescription of vitamin A supplements
How to Prevent Measles?
Measles Rubella Vaccination is the best way to avoid the measles outbreak. The MMR antibody is a three-in-one immunization that can shield you and your children from the measles, mumps, and rubella (also called as German measles). Children can get their first MMR vaccination at one year of age, or sooner if traveling abroad, and their second vaccine at 4 to 6 years of age. Adults who haven’t been vaccinated can ask for the immunization from their doctors. If you or your family member gets infected by measles, avoid going out and limit interaction with others.
Also, Read about: Know Your Child’s Vaccine Schedule: What Shots Baby Needs & When
Some useful facts on measles
- Measles is a highly infectious disease
- Researchers have found 21 strains of the measles virus
- Signs of measles infection can include sneezing, watery eyes, and dry cough
- There is no particular treatment for measles.
- Pregnant women should not take the vaccine, rather get vaccinated before they plan to get pregnant.