What is Measles?

Measles is a highly contagious virus that primarily infects children, but which can also spread to and from adults. It is easily controlled through vaccination. It is characterized by fever, rash and conjunctivitis.

Since it is easily spread through the air when an infected individual coughs or sneezes, it’s hard to control without immunization. It is most dangerous for children under 5 and adults over 20, groups in which complications can be life-threatening. Additionally, the virus can also spread through utensils, cups, tissues and napkins and other objects that were exposed to infected fluids such as mucus or saliva.

What are the Symptoms of Measles?

In the first stages, measles can mimic a cold or the flu. Early symptoms are a cough, fever, runny nose, and diarrhea. The eyes slowly turn red as with conjunctivitis, then red spots show up in the back of the mouth.

Finally, a distinct red rash spreads over the skin about one to two weeks after your initial exposure to the virus. The first symptoms start four to five days before the rash shows up, at which point the patient is usually fatigued and bedridden.

How is Measles Treated?

Even with treatment, a measles infection can cause brain swelling known as encephalitis. This may lead to permanent damage, seizures, or death. Miscarriages, death due to pneumonia, and deafness due to severe ear infections are also potential complications. That is the main reason why it is vital to vaccinate children against measles.

There is no cure or specific treatment for measles. The virus must go through its natural course and you can only support the patient’s health while waiting it out. Taking Vitamin A can decrease the chances of complications, but some side effects can’t be prevented no matter what treatment is used. It’s far better to avoid measles in the first place.

Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 30, 2017