Measles or morbilli is highly transmittable disease caused by genus Morbilivirus. This viral infection features with high body temperature, cough and specific form of rash. The virus is transmitted by tiny little droplets that are ejected from the mouth or nose during speech, cough and especially sneeze. The droplets enter the nasal and oral cavity and virus starts its replication causing symptoms after certain period of incubation. There is no cure for measles but there is very convenient protection. Namely, MMR vaccine is effective in protection against measles, mumps and rubella.
Thanks to the vaccine this disease relatively rarely occurs. Only people who have not been fully vaccinated may catch the infection. There were certain rumors that MMR vaccine can cause autism and this is the reason why so many parents have refused to vaccinate their children. Children are, indeed, the most affected. The infection mostly occurs between first and fourth year of age.
Symptoms of Measles
Incubation period lasts from 9 to 11 days. After that the symptoms start to appear. This viral infection begins with the cold- like symptoms. Patients usually suffer from runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes. Eyelids may be edematous. Eyes may be extremely red and sensitive to light, a symptom called photophobia.
Body temperature may be normal, slightly elevated or even above 105°F. Increased body temperature lasts approximately more than few days. Then it comes back to normal. However, the body temperature increases once again and this happens after the rash has occurred.
The rash is typical in this vital infection. Namely, it starts in oral cavity where it is presented with typical grayish-white spots. These spots are called Koplik's spots. Then the rash affects face and spreads onto the lower parts of the body. The rash is reddish or brown. It withdraws the same way as it began. First the face clears and then the rash withdraws from the trunk and finally from the extremities. The rash occurs three or four days after the disease has begun.
Patient additionally feels exhausted and irritated. Lack of energy is quite clear. There is a loss of appetite and sometimes pain in muscles. During the infection dry cough occurs.
Diagnosis and Outlook
Well experienced general practitioner will be able to recognize the condition rather easily. The rash and Koplik's spot may be helpful as well as the absence of evidence of previous vaccination. There is no specific treatment for this viral infection. Once the person has fought the infection he/ she develops immunity for lifetime. In rare cases measles may lead to certain complications such as pneumonia, ear infection, and croup. In extremely rare cases measles may lead to encephalitis and cause lethal outcome.