Measles, also known as rubeola, is a viral illness. It's characterized by a distinct rash and a fever. Measles is very contagious. It is usually spread through direct contact with droplets from coughs or sneezes from a person with measles. Although not as common, it can be spread by droplets in the air. The symptoms of measles occur about 8 to 12 days after coming in contact with a person with the virus.
What are the symptoms of measles?
Measles usually begin with cold like symptoms. Symptoms may include:
Within another few days, a red rash appears. It usually starts on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body. Once the rash appears, the fever may get much higher. This rash fades after 4 to 7 days as symptoms subside.
The symptoms of measles may look like other medical conditions. Always see your child's health care provider for a diagnosis.
What is the treatment for measles?
Your child's health care provider will figure out the best treatment based on:
How old your child is
His or her overall health and health history
How sick he or she is
How well your child can handle specific medications, procedures, or therapies
How long the condition is expected to last
Your opinion or preference
Vitamin A is used to treat measles in children. It lessens the chance of serious complications and death. Other treatment includes:
What are the complications of measles?
Most people recover with no lasting effects. But measles can lead to serious complications or even death. Complications of measles include the following:
Middle ear infection
Infection of the lungs (pneumonia)
Infection of the upper airway with trouble breathing and cough (croup)
Infection of the brain (encephalitis)
How can measles be prevented?
The measles vaccine is part of the routine immunizations recommended for children. Children should be vaccinated for measles with 2 doses:
For people who have not been vaccinated, vaccination up to 3 days after exposure to measles may prevent the disease.
People who have had measles are immune for life. But if you work in education or health care, or are planning international travel, you may want to be vaccinated to boost your immunity.
When to call the health care provider
Call your child's health care provider right away if you suspect measles. Get emergency care if your child has:
- Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
- MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
- Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN