Measles is a childhood infection caused by a virus, measles virus. The diseases, though completely preventable, is quite common in some areas f the world, due to lack of strong vaccination program. The countries and regions where vaccination program is good, measles is almost non-existent and many areas has been declared measles free. However, those measles free regions may still have the disease if imported from outside. Measles can be serious and even fatal among small children. Death due to measles has fallen largely; however, still about 100,000 die due to the disease. This is mainly due to lack of healthcare facilities and lack of good vaccination program.
What are the signs and symptoms of measles?
The signs and symptoms of measles appear about 10 to 14 days (incubation period) after exposure to the causative virus. The common signs and symptoms of measles include,
- Fever, can be as high as 105 degree Fahrenheit.
- Runny nose, sore throat, dry cough
- Redness of eyes/conjunctiva (inflammation of conjunctiva or conjunctivitis)
- Skin rash, which is made up of large and flat maculo-papular lesions, that are sometimes connected to each other.
- And, the most important is the presence of Koplik’s spot, in the inside of the mouth in the inner side of the cheek. The spot is a tiny white colored spot with bluish-white center with red background. Presence of Koplik’s spot is diagnostic of measles, because it is not seen in any other disease (called pathognomonic sign, i.e. the sign is present only that particular disease and in no other disease, hence it confirms diagnosis).
The disease occurs in stages over a period of two to three weeks. The stages are,
- Incubation period: this is the period of getting infection and appearance of first symptom. For measles, it is 10 to 14 days. That is, it take 10 to 14 days for first symptom to appear after infection.
- Non-specific symptoms: after end of incubation period non-specific symptoms such as fever, runny nose, sore throat etc. appear and last for two to three days. At this stage, it is very difficult to differentiate measles from common cold or flu.
- Next, skin rash appear and it may be comparatively easier to diagnose the disease at this stage. Skin rash appear all over body with maculo-papular lesions.
How long a patient remain contagious with measles?
A patient of measles can spread the disease to others for about eight days. Four days before appearing of rash and four days after appearing of rash. During this time patient should remain indoor or be hospitalized in an isolation ward, to prevent spread of measles.
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