What is measles?

Measles is a disease caused by a respiratory virus that produces telltale red spots on the body. In addition to the spots, symptoms include fever, runny nose, and cough. Measles is a childhood disease that rarely occurs in adults. Measles is also known as rubeola.

Measles has largely been eliminated in the Western world through the availability of a vaccine. It is still common in developing countries, with half of all deaths occurring in India. Measles occurs occasionally in the United States, most often carried by visitors from foreign regions, and may spread among populations of children who have not been vaccinated. Worldwide, there are approximately 10 million cases and 197,000 deaths each year from measles (Source: CDC).

Symptoms of measles typically develop within 10 to 12 days after infection with the virus. The first symptoms are generally a fever, sore throat, cough, and runny nose. The rash develops after a few days and may be associated with high fever. The virus is spread by infected droplets that enter the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks.

Although most cases of measles do not result in complications, encephalitis can occur in one out of every 1,000 cases and may lead to severe brain damage. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms of encephalitis, which include convulsions or seizures, lethargy, fainting or change in level of consciousness, and vomiting.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of measles?

Symptoms of measles typically begin with fever, sore throat, cough, sore eyes, and runny nose. The characteristic symptom of measles, known as Koplik’s spots, appears on the inside of the mouth. Koplik’s spots are small white areas that may have bluish-colored centers.

Within three to five days of the onset of symptoms, the skin rash appears. The rash often begins on the face and ... Read more about measlessymptoms

CAUSES

What causes measles?

Measles is an infectious disease caused by a virus of the paramyxovirus family, which infects the lining layer of the back of the throat and nose. You can catch measles through exposure to airborne droplets spread by an infected person when he or she sneezes or coughs. Particles carrying the virus remain infectious for hours, so even touching a door handle or other infected surface can put you ... Read more about measlescauses

TREATMENTS

How is measles treated?

Although there is no treatment specifically to cure measles, medications to control pain and reduce fever may be given to make the patient more comfortable. Antibiotics may be prescribed if a secondary bacterial infection, such as pneumonia or an ear infection, develops. Patients with measles should be separated from others to avoid exp... Read more about measlestreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Lungs, Breathing and Respiration


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