Measles is a childhood condition caused by a virus and is characterized by full-body rash and respiratory inflammation. Today, measles can be prevented and treated with just a vaccine. According to WHO, measles stands as one of the major causes of childhood deaths. It is a highly contagious disease spread via direct contact and air. When it is in your system, the virus spreads throughout your whole body, attacking your respiratory tract at first.
Due to the high rate of vaccination in the US, there’s been no account of the widespread of measles infection in about 2 decades. Recent cases either started outside the country or among people who were unvaccinated to those who can’t recall whether they were vaccinated or not.
What are the Causes Of Measles?
Measles is a highly contagious infection; meaning it is a highly communicable disease. The primary cause of this infection is a virus that lingers in the nose and throat of an infected child or adult. When this infected person coughs, sneezes or even by talking, contagious droplets are dispersed into the atmosphere. They hang in the air for about an hour where other people eventually breathe them in.
Also, the droplets may land on surfaces where they thrive and spread for some hours. Without inhaling the droplets, you can also get infected by putting your fingers in your mouth, picking your nose with it, or even rubbing the eyes after contact with the affected areas.
How Will I Know I Have Measles (Symptoms)
The first and most common sign of measles is fever which sets in about 10-12 days after you’ve been infected. The fever lasts for 4-7 days. Other notable symptoms of measles include:
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Skin rash
- Small white spots inside the cheeks
The measles infection occurs in stages for about 2-3 weeks. Below are several stages of the measles infection.
1. Stage I: Infection and Incubation stage
Infection occurs when you either breathe in infectious droplets dispersed in the air by an infected person when they cough or sneeze. You can even get infected by having physical contact with infectious surfaces. For the first 10-14 days after infection, the virus circulates through the body. At this stage, there’ll be no notable signs or symptoms of the infection.
2. Stage II
In the second phase of this infection, you’ll start to experience mild to moderate fever. This is accompanied by cough, runny nose, inflamed eye and sore throat. This stage lasts for 2 to 3 days.
3. Stage III
The third stage of measles infection is characterized by an acute illness and rash. The rashes are made up of small red spots lightly clustered with bumps. This rash spreads all through the arm, chest, back, and over the thighs, legs and feet for some days. At this point, the fever experienced at stage II becomes high and severe (around 0-41 degrees Celsius). The rash persists for 7 days.
4. Stage IV
This is the final and recovery stage. At this stage, the rash fades away, starting from the face, all down to the thighs and feet. Though you get relieved of most symptoms, the cough and darkening of the skin where the rash surfaced persist for 10 days.
What Are the Possible Risk Factors or Measles?
Measles harm our general health. It leads to other diseases/infections that cause major issues to human health. Also, its effects are noticeable in pregnant women. Some infections/diseases caused or triggered by the measles virus include:
- Bronchitis: Measles virus affects the respiratory tract at first leading to irritation and inflammation of the airways. It can also cause swelling of the voice box, and also the inner walls that line the main air passageways of the lungs.
- Encephalitis: Encephalitis is a condition characterized by irritation and inflammation of the brain. It may occur right after measles or some months later causing premature brain deficiencies. Also, encephalitis isn’t that common as about 1 in 1000 people with measles can develop this complication.
- Pneumonia: Since the first place of the infection is the respiratory system, it causes major infections in the lungs (pneumonia). Those with an already weakened immune system will be highly susceptible to a more deadly form of pneumonia that may be life-threatening.
- Pregnancy Issues: Pregnancy is more like a delicate stage in the life of a woman. You need to do all it takes to protect yourself from diseases and infections. In addition, you’ll have to protect yourself against measles as this infection can cause premature birth, low birth weight of the fetus and fetal death.
How Can I Prevent Getting Affected With The Measles Virus?
The only preventive measure for measles is vaccination. Routine measles vaccination for kids, followed by mass immunization campaigns to raise awareness about the disease in countries with high death rates and cases of measles are the best strategies you can use in preventing and reducing the outbreak of the disease.
The measles vaccine is often administered with rubella or mumps vaccines which are considered safe and effective. These vaccines have been in existence for over 50 years now, protecting mankind from the deadly measles virus. It’s cheap, effective and safe for everyone.
To prevent further outbreaks and immunity to the disease, two doses are recommended. This is because over 15% of vaccinated children tend to remain susceptible to the disease after the first dose.
What are the Possible Ways I can Treat Measles?
As of today, there isn’t any specific treatment for the measles infection. Once affected, the only thing you can do is to provide different measures to relieve the effects of the symptoms. But some measures can also be taken to protect those with no immunity to measles after getting exposed.
- Post-exposure vaccination: Those with no immunity to measles may be administered the measles vaccines 72hours of exposure. If the infection still develops, it’ll have less severe symptoms and you’ll gain relief in a short time.
- Immune serum globulin: People with a weakened immune system who have been exposed to the measles virus can be given an immune serum globulin. It is an injection of protein (antibodies) that prevents measles or provides relief from its symptoms when administered within 6 days of exposure to the virus.
You can also use drugs like antibiotics, vitamin A and fever reducers (acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium) to relieve the symptoms of measles.
Measles is a deadly infection caused by a virus. It can be treated in many ways, both through the use of natural home remedies and also medications. These measures play a vital role in providing relief against symptoms the infection has to offer. Well, the best practice here is to get vaccinated. Two doses of the vaccination are recommended for immunity.
If you notice any of the symptoms related to measles n your child, go see a doctor immediately and run a diagnosis before treatment is given.