CONDITIONS A-Z

Measles

measlesMeasles is an acute respiratory infection caused by a highly contagious virus called the rubella virus. Measles is mainly seen in children and can be serious and even life-threatening.

The human body is the only natural host for this virus. The measles virus is very contagious and can infect about 90% of the patient's close contacts, if they are not immunized.

Measles Overview

Measles is an acute respiratory infection caused by the rubella virus. It is a very contagious disease and is known to have been prevalent for over two thousand years. This infection usually appears in children and can be fatal. On an average, approximately 30 to 40 million cases of measles occur worldwide each year, resulting in about 1 million deaths.

Causes of Measles

Measles is a viral infection. There are two types of measles. The rubeola virus causes 'red measles' also known as 'hard measles' while the rubella virus causes 'German measles' also known as 'three-day measles'.

Measles is easily passed by direct contact through droplets from respiratory secretions of infected persons.

Symptoms of Measles

The typical signs of measles are cough, cold, fever and a skin rash. These signs are seen several days before the illness actually begins. In an infected person, the virus enters the respiratory lining membrane and goes into the blood stream. It is most contagious when the symptoms are at their peak. Rubeola can lead to pneumonia or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). On the other hand German measles, which is usually a milder disease, can cause significant birth defects if it is passed on to the foetus during pregnancy.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Measles

Measles is a self-limiting disease that is clinically diagnosed and most people recover without problems.

Prevention of Measles

Before the advent of vaccines, epidemics of measles were known to occur every two to five years. A large rise in the number of cases of measles in the UK has been directly linked to lack of vaccination. Today, the recommended measles vaccine MMR is a highly effective way to prevent measles and related complications because of which both rubella and rubeola have become quiet uncommon.

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Measles Index



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