Measles – Signs, Symptoms and Prevention
Pink to red blotchy rashes accompanied by respiratory infection is a description of the condition, measles. This is caused by a virus found all over the world. This disease is also known as rubeola. The disease is serious and highly contagious wherein it can be fatal to small children. Around 30 million to 40 million of cases occur worldwide each year reaching to about 1 million deaths each year also. It would be wise to have vaccines available around the world to prevent the death rate reaching as high as mentioned previously. But, sad to say, vaccination programs almost around the world are incomplete. And global health organizations are working hard to address this program. The disease can also be acquired and spread easily with international travellers.
To understand better the disease, measles’ signs and symptoms would include fever, runny nose, dry cough, inflamed eyes or conjunctivitis, sensitivity to light, skin rash made up of large, flat blotches often flowing into one another and tiny red spots with bluish-white centers (called Koplik’s spots) found on the inner lining of the cheek inside the mouth. The slightly itchy rashes first appear on the face gradually going downwards to the chest and the back until finally reaching the thighs and the feet. These usually appear 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus.
The virus that causes measles usually lives in mucus in the nose and throat of an infected individual. During this time, the infected person is contagious up to four days before and after the rashes appears. The spread of the disease is through spray droplets from coughs of infected individuals or from sneezes and even from just talking. These droplets travel through the air and will be inhaled by other people. They may also land on a surface where they may remain actively contagious for several hours. From this infected surface, a person can be infected once he places his fingers inside his mouth or his nose.
Once the virus enters the body, it will grow in cells lining the back of the throat and in the lungs. The infection will then spread throughout the body including the skin and the respiratory system. Other complications will include the development of croup, conjunctivitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, myocarditis, encephalitis and even hepatitis.
There is no underlying treatment to an established infection. However, infants not yet immunized may be given the vaccination within 72 hours of exposure. Since fever accompanies the infection, over-the-counter medications are needed to help relieve the fever. Others are given antibiotics for bacterial infection. Still others are advised to undergo isolation due to the fact that they can be contagious about four days before and after rashes break out from their bodies.
Prevention is needed using vaccination which is highly effective. This is given in combination of mumps and rubella, thus forming the MMR vaccine. To be more at ease with measles, get some rest, have lots of liquids especially water, seek respiratory relief, and rest your eyes.