Measles is a viral disease that causes respiratory disorders. Measles are also called Rubeola because of the characteristic red rash all over the body. This highly infectious disease was a major cause of concern before the middle of the last century. More than 90% children were infected with Measles. Measles exclusively attack humans only. After infection, the virus multiplies in the cells covering back of throat and lungs. A person infected by this disease attains lifelong immunity due to neutralizing antibodies or immune response against haemagglutinin (H) protein encoded by Measles virus. Measles are often mistaken as other rash-causing diseases like Roseola (Roseola infantum) and Rubella (German measles).
How is measles spread?
Measles is a highly contagious disease; spread by breathing, coughing or sneezing the viral infected respiratory droplets and direct contact with the diseased patient. The infected person is contagious ~4 days prior to the eruption of rash and until 4 days post rash. There is always a very less probability that any non immune individual will escape this airborne infection after coming in contact with the diseased person. Measles can be prevented by Measles vaccine or MMR vaccine.
Symptoms of Measles:
Measles patients suffer from a high fever (~40°C), runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and cough in the initial stage. The diseased person may also have swollen lymph nodes, red sore eyes (conjunctivitis), fatigue and gastrointestinal discomforts. Towards the end of these symptoms, the diseased person starts having bluish-white Koplik’s spots inside the mouth, followed by a red rash all over the body. It takes around 8-14 days to develop the characteristic red rash of Measles. The patient will start improving from the third day after the rash appears and is fully recovered in about 2 weeks after the symptoms appear. Measles can be severe with complications like Pneumonia and Encephalitis, which can be fatal in children less than 5 years of age. In rare cases it can cause seizures or meningitis. Malnourished children in developing countries, especially suffering from vitamin A deficiency easily succumb to this disease due to delayed recovery and higher rate of complications.