Measles is an infectious disease caused by a virus. This virus causes a number of symptoms such as fever, cough, red eyes, runny nose and a well recognized itchy rash. In serious cases it can cause a range of complications including ear infection, encephalitis (dangerous swelling of the brain), damage to the cornea of the eye and even death. Measles is highly contagious and spreads via contact with the fluids from and infected persons nose and mouth. After the disease is transmitted it takes about 9-12 days for any symptoms to show. The rash begins a few days after the initial symptoms and starts on the head before spreading to cover the entire body. This rash can last up to 8 days and a person is usually no longer infectious at this time. Let’s take a closer look at how this serious illness is treated.
What is the treatment for measles?
Currently there is no cure for those that contract measles. This means that the primary treatment is alleviating the symptoms of patients with this condition. Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen, or acetaminophen (paracetamol) can be used to alleviate pain and fever. Aspirin is not recommended for children under 16 years of age.
In many countries a vaccine is available for the disease and most children receive an immunization by the time they are 18 months old. A second dose of the vaccine is given when the child is about 4-5 years of age. The vaccine is very effective in preventing the disease and the rate of infection is now only 1% in countries with childhood immunization programs.
Did you know?
The vaccine used to prevent measles is known as the MMR vaccine. This vaccine provides immunity not only for measles, but also for mumps and rubella (German measles).