Measles is a vaccine preventable disease for which there is a national immunization programme and is a highly contagious infection.
Outbreaks occur regularly in the community and is spread through respiration (contact with fluids from an infected person’s nose and mouth, either directly or through aerosol transmission), and is highly contagious
How is measles caused?
Measles is caused by infection with the rubeola virus. This virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when someone with measles coughs or sneezes. Once inside your body, the virus multiplies in the back of your throat and lungs before spreading throughout your body, including your respiratory system and the skin.
How long is someone infectious?
Someone with measles is infectious for 2-4 days before the rash appears and for about 5 days after it appears.
What are the symptoms of measles?
The initial symptoms of measles appear around 10 days after you get the measles infection and generally last for up to 14 days. The measles rash usually appears a few days afterwards. The initial symptoms of measles include:
- cold-like symptoms, such as runny nose, watery eyes, swollen eyelids and sneezing
- red eyes and sensitivity to light
- a mild to severe temperature, which may peak at over 40.6C (105F) for several days, then fall but go up again when the rash appears
- tiny greyish-white spots (called Koplik spots) in the mouth and throat
- tiredness, irritability and general lack of energy
- aches and pains
- poor appetite
- dry cough
- red-brown spotty rash
How is Measles diagnosed?
Your GP will usually be able to diagnose measles from the combination of symptoms, such as the characteristic rash and the small spots inside the mouth. A simple saliva or blood test can confirm the diagnosis and identify the rubeola virus.
How can Measles be treated?
There is no specific treatment for measles. Once the rash starts, you will need to rest and treat the symptoms until your immune system fights off the virus. If there are no complications due to measles, the symptoms will usually disappear within 7-10 days.
If your child has measles, you may find the following advice useful for making them more comfortable:
- Use liquid baby paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve fever, aches and pains. Do not give aspirin to children under the age of 16.
- Closing curtains or dimming lights can help reduce light sensitivity.
- Damp cotton wool can be used to clean away any crustiness around the eyes. Use one piece of cotton wool per wipe for each eye. Gently clean the eye from inner to outer lid.
- Cough medicines are of little help and should not be given to children under the age of 6.
- Children over 12 months old may benefit from a teaspoon of lemon juice and two teaspoons of honey in a glass of warm water. Honey should not be given to babies under the age of 12 months.
- Placing a bowl of water in the room will make the atmosphere more humid, which can help to relieve a cough.
- Feverish small children rapidly lose water, which makes a cough worse. Children should drink regularly to prevent dehydration.
While antibiotics are of no use to treat the virus, they may be prescribed for any secondary bacterial infections that develop. In severe cases of measles, particularly when there are more serious complications, hospital treatment may be required.
Preventing the spread of Measles?
If you think that your child may have measles, keep them away from other children for at least 6 days after the rash has appeared. Vaccinated children and anyone who has already had measles are extremely unlikely to catch measles.
How soon can children return to school?
Your child should not return to school until at least 5 days after the appearance of the rash
Further general information can be found here;