Measles is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the measles virus (MeV). It spreads through respiratory droplets and primarily affects children. The disease is characterized by a distinctive red rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and conjunctivitis. Measles can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis, and death, particularly in malnourished children or those with weakened immune systems. Vaccination with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is a highly effective preventive measure, contributing to global efforts to control and eliminate measles. Despite the availability of a safe and efficient vaccine, outbreaks can occur in populations with low vaccination rates, emphasizing the importance of widespread immunization to achieve herd immunity and prevent the resurgence of this infectious disease.

Measles presents with a range of symptoms, typically starting with a high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Characteristic small white spots (Koplik's spots) may appear inside the mouth. A few days later, a distinctive red rash emerges, spreading from the face down to the rest of the body. The rash is accompanied by a spike in fever. Measles is highly contagious, and individuals with the virus can transmit it to others through respiratory droplets. While most people recover, the infection can lead to complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, and in severe cases, encephalitis.

Measles is highly contagious, primarily spreading through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing. It remains infectious in the air for an extended period, making crowded places particularly risky. Individuals without vaccination or previous infection are susceptible to contracting the virus through exposure to respiratory secretions, contributing to widespread transmission in communities with low vaccination rates. The virus can also spread indirectly through contact with contaminated surfaces.

The diagnosis of measles is typically based on clinical symptoms, particularly the characteristic red rash, high fever, cough, and runny nose. Confirmatory laboratory tests may include detecting measles-specific antibodies or the virus's genetic material through blood tests or throat swabs. Additionally, healthcare providers may examine clinical and epidemiological factors, such as recent exposure to measles, to support the diagnosis.

Preventing measles primarily involves vaccination with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which is highly effective in providing immunity against the virus. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended for optimal protection, typically administered in childhood. Maintaining high vaccination coverage within communities is crucial to achieve herd immunity, which protects those who cannot be vaccinated, such as infants and individuals with certain medical conditions. Public health measures also include timely vaccination during outbreaks, ensuring that susceptible individuals receive the vaccine to prevent further transmission.

There is no specific antiviral treatment for measles, and management primarily focuses on supportive care to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. This includes maintaining hydration, managing fever with antipyretics, and addressing respiratory issues if they arise. Vitamin A supplementation is often recommended, especially in children, to reduce the severity of symptoms and decrease the risk of complications. Infected individuals are advised to rest and isolate themselves to prevent the spread of the virus. While measles is a self-limiting illness for most individuals, complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis can occur, emphasizing the importance of timely medical attention and preventive measures such as vaccination to mitigate the impact of the disease.

  • Measles is extremely contagious, with one infected person capable of spreading the virus to 12-18 others. Yet, vaccination can prevent its transmission.

  • The MMR vaccine provides 97 percent effectiveness in preventing measles.

  • An infected person can transmit the disease four days before and four days after the onset of the characteristic rash that accompanies the virus.


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