Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that spreads easily from person to person through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus is known to be capable of surviving in the air or on surfaces for up to two hours.
Measles is a serious disease that can lead to complications such as pneumonia, brain swelling, and even death. In this article, we will explore the causes and treatment options for measles.
Causes of Measles
The measles virus is a paramyxovirus, which is a family of RNA viruses that cause respiratory and neurological diseases.
The measles virus primarily affects the respiratory system, but it can also affect other parts of the body such as the skin, eyes, and nervous system.
The virus is highly contagious and is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Measles is so contagious that up to 90% of people who are not immune to the virus will contract the disease if they are exposed to it.
The measles virus can survive on surfaces for up to two hours, which means that people can become infected by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching their nose or mouth.
Symptoms of Measles
The symptoms of measles usually appear about 10 to 14 days after a person is exposed to the virus. The initial symptoms are similar to those of a cold or flu and can include:
- Runny nose
- Red and watery eyes
- Sore throat
After a few days, a rash will appears on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body. The rash typically lasts for about a week and is accompanied by a high fever. The rash is made up of small, red, flat spots that merge together to form larger spots.
Complications of Measles
In some cases, measles can lead to complications that can be serious or even life-threatening. Complications of measles may include:
- Pneumonia: Measles can lead to pneumonia, which is a serious lung infection that can be fatal in some cases.
- Encephalitis: Measles can cause inflammation of the brain, which can lead to encephalitis. Encephalitis can cause seizures, deafness, and mental retardation.
- Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE): SSPE is a rare complication of measles that occurs years after the initial infection. SSPE causes a slow and progressive brain disorder that is fatal in most cases.
Treatment for Measles
There is no specific treatment for measles. The aim of any measles treatment is just to relieve the symptoms and prevent any complications. Treatment options for measles include:
- Rest: Rest is important for people with measles because it helps the body fight the virus.
- Fluids: It is important for people with measles to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Fever reducers: Over-the-counter fever reducers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce fever and relieve pain.
- Vitamin A: Studies have shown that high doses of vitamin A can reduce the severity of measles and prevent complications.
Prevention of Measles
The best and advisable way to prevent the measles virus is to get vaccinated. The measles vaccine is safe and effective and is recommended for all children over the age of 12 months.
The measles vaccine is usually administered in two doses, the first dose is given at 12-15 months of age after birth and the second dose is usually given at 4-6 years of age.
In addition to getting vaccinated, people can also prevent the spread of measles by:
- Avoiding contact with people who have measles
- Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Washing hands frequently with soap and water
Always remember that Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and to protect yourself or stay away from infected people especially if you have not been immunized.
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