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Definition[change source]

Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease, caused by the measles virus.[1][2]

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Preventable deaths[change source]

It is one of the leading vaccine-preventable disease causes of death.[3][4]

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Greatest risk[change source]

Most of those who die from the infection are less than five years old.[5][6]

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Onset of illness[change source]

Symptoms, usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person, and last 7–10 days.[5][7]

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Initial Symptoms[change source]

Initial symptoms typically include, fever, often greater than 40 °C (104 °F), cough, runny nose, and inflamed eyes.[1][8]

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Koplik's spots[change source]

Small white spots, known as Koplik's spots, may form inside the mouth, two or three days after the start of symptoms.[8]

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Rash[change source]

but the classic sign, is a red (flat) rash, which usually starts on the face three to five days after the start of symptoms, and then spreads to the rest of the body.[8]


Common Complications[change source]

About 7% of cases have complications, including diarrhea, middle ear infection, and pneumonia.[9]

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Less likely complications[change source]

Less commonly, seizures, blindness, or inflammation of the brain, may occur.[5][9]

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Cause[change source]

Measles is an airborne disease, which spreads very easily, through the coughs and sneezes of infected people.[5]

Other ways to spread disease[change source]

It may also be spread through contact with saliva, or nasal secretions.[5]

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Contagiousness[change source]

It is so contagious, that a single infected person will spread it to nine out of ten, non-immune people, who live with them.[9]

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Duration of contagiousness[change source]

One reason, is that it can be spread four days before a rash develops, and continue for four days after the start of the rash.[9]

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Immunity[change source]

Fortunately, most people do not get the disease more than once.[5]

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Diagnosis[change source]

Testing for the measles virus in suspected cases is important, for public health efforts.[9]

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Prevention[change source]

The measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease, and is often delivered in combination with other vaccines.[5]

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Treatment[change source]

Once a person has become infected, no specific treatment is available,[5] but supportive care may improve outcomes.[5]

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Supportive care[change source]

This may include oral rehydration solution, healthy food, and medications to control the fever.[5][7]

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Antibiotics[change source]

Antibiotics may be used, if a secondary bacterial infection such as bacterial pneumonia occurs.[5]


Vitamin A[change source]

Vitamin eh supplementation, is also recommended in the developing world.[5]

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References[change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Caserta, MT, ed. (September 2013). "Measles". Merck Manual Professional. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Archived from the original on 23 March 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  2. "Measles (Red Measles, Rubeola)". Dept of Health, Saskatchewan. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  3. Kabra, SK; Lodhra, R (14 August 2013). "Antibiotics for preventing complications in children with measles". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 8 (8): CD001477. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001477.pub4. PMID 23943263.
  4. "Despite the availability of a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine for more than 40 years, measles remains a leading vaccine-preventable cause of childhood deaths" (PDF). Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 "Measles Fact sheet N°286". November 2014. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  6. "Measles cases spike globally due to gaps in vaccination coverage". WHO. 29 November 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Conn's Current Therapy 2015. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2014. p. 153. ISBN 9780323319560. Archived from the original on 2017-09-08.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Measles (Rubeola) Signs and Symptoms". November 3, 2014. Archived from the original on 2 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Atkinson, William (2011). Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (12 ed.). Public Health Foundation. pp. 301–23. ISBN 9780983263135. Archived from the original on 7 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.