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Measles (Rubella or Rubeola)- Things To Remember

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   5 min     



Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infectious disease caused by the rubeola virus; there are 21 different strains of this virus. It is characterized by the appearance of red rashes all over the body. You can ensure your child does not contract measles by getting vaccinated. According to an estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO), 2.6 million people die of measles due to not being vaccinated. 

The disease is viral and hence spread rapidly among people, while some people may develop resistance over time. The recovery period for the disease is between 7-10 days.

If a person contracts measles once in his lifetime, then his chances of contracting the disease are slim to none.

Symptoms of Measles

Most of the time when someone contracts a rubeola infection, it is through physical contact. The symptoms within 9-11 days after being infected. Symptoms include,

  • Dry cough

  • Runny nose

  • Redness and swelling in the eyes due to conjunctivitis; as well as watery eyes

  • Sneezing

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Reddish-brown rashes that appear all over the body, that last over a week.

  • Koplik’s spots that appear before the rash. These spots are greyish white in colour and are found in the inside of the mouth and throat.

  • Fever with a temperature up to 40.6 degree Celsius.

Possible Complications of Measles

In many cases, measles gives rise to many complications. This usually occurs when the patient has a weak immune system, due to being infected with HIV or having diseases like leukaemia, or a vitamin deficiency. Young children or adults above 20 years of age have a high risk of developing complications from the disease.

Possible complications include,

  • Diarrhoea

  • Vomiting

  • Eye infection due to conjunctivitis

  • Infections in the respiratory tracts such as bronchitis or laryngitis

  • Infection in the ear that could lead to loss of hearing

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Seizures in infants and children

  • Bacterial pneumonia in case the patient has a weak immune system

  • Hepatitis; this occurs if the adult or infant is on some medications

  • Encephalitis

  • Thrombocytopenia, which is a reduction in the platelet count in the blood, thus affecting blood’s clotting ability

  • Due to the muscles and nerves in the eye being affected, the patient may end up with a squint

Measles During A Pregnancy

Measles during pregnancy is dangerous to both the mother and the fetus. If a mother isis not vaccinated before conception, she needs to visit the doctor before it happens.

If the mother contracts measles during her pregnancy it could lead to miscarriage, premature delivery or low birth weight,

Types of Measles

There are two different types of measles-

  1. Measles: This is the more commonly occurring one. It is caused by the rubeola virus

  2. Rubella or the German measles: This type is caused due to the rubella virus. Although this type is presented with mild symptoms, it poses more of a risk to the child if the mother was infected during pregnancy. German measles isn’t as infectious or severe as the standard measles.

Causes of Measles

A person contracts measles because of being affected by the rubeola virus. The disease is contagious and everyone is susceptible to the disease if they are not vaccinated.

The virus is usually found in the mucus of the nose and throat.

The disease is contagious from the time the patient is infected up to 4-5 days after the rashes begin to appear.

A person could be infected by,

  • Coming in physical contact with an infected person

  • Being around infected people, and if they happen to sneeze or cough without covering

  • Coming in contact with cough or sneeze droplets of the infected person. This could occur if touch any item that has been sneezed on by the infected person.

Diagnosis of Measles

It is quite easy to diagnose measles. A complete examination of the existing signs and symptoms will help with the diagnosis. Conducting a blood test shall confirm the presence of rubeola virus in the bloodstream.

Prevention of Measles

The best way to prevent measles is by getting yourself and your child vaccinated with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. In the case of children, have the MMR vaccine administered at 12-15 months, and then follow it with a booster shot around the time they are 4-6 years old.

Women who are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant soon, must not take the vaccine. The same goes for people who are allergic to antibiotics neomycin and gelatin.

People who have had their immune system compromised must also contact the doctor to confirm if they have to be vaccinated again.

It would also be wise to avoid getting in contact with infected patients or use their personal items.

Treatment of Measles

Measles does not have any specific course of treatment. Usually, the doctors recommend that the patient takes rest and drinks plenty of fluids until completely recovered, which takes up to 2 weeks. Here are a few suggestions that could help ease the discomfort one faces during measles.

  • High temperatures caused due to fever can be combatted by applying cool cloth.

  • Do not smoke or expose yourself to smoke or dust

  • Keep the surroundings around the patient darkened, as measles decreases the yes’ sensitivity to light.

  • Home remedies like lemon juice and honey may help the child with the cough. 

  • Crustiness around the eys due to conjunctivitis os to be cleaned with a warm damp cloth

  • Increase the intake of fluids

  • Keep the child isolated or quarantined to avoid further spread of infection

  • In case of possible bacterial infections, the patient shall be prescribed antibiotics

  • Administer eye drops for the eye infection

  • Vitamin A supplements, if the child is Vitamin A deficient, but consult a doctor before providing vitamin supplements.

Visit a doctor when..

Parents have no way of knowing if their child has measles, every rash is not a measle symptom. But it is always better to be safe than sorry. So visit the doctor when you suspect that you or your child has measles.

If the fever rises to above 38 degree Celsius.

Also once the symptoms are gone, but still the fever persists, then immediately visit the doctor.

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Tags:  measles symptoms,measles treatment,measles vaccine,Rubella, Rubeola, Measles

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