Introduction About What is Measles

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory infection. It is also known as rubella or red measles. Measles are caused by virus measles hence the name of the disease. Mostly children below  5 years of age are infected through measles hence vaccination should be mandatorily given to children. Major epidemics occurred every 2-3 years causing 2.6 million deaths every year, before the introduction of the measles vaccine. The vaccine was invented in 1963. Severe measles occurs among poorly nourished young children who have insufficient vitamin A. Those whose immune system has been weakened due to HIV or AIDS or other diseases also get infected through measles easily.

Causes of Measles 

Measles spread through mucous and saliva of the infected person. The virus is released into the air when the measles infected person sneezes or coughs. Measles virus also travels through the air.
It spreads through:

  • Respiratory droplets (coughing or sneezing)
  • Saliva ( sharing drink or kissing)
  • Touching contaminated surface.
  • Skin to skin contact or close contact.
  • In pregnancy from mother to baby, or nurse.

Symptoms of Measles

Generally, symptoms appear within 14 days of exposure to the virus. Within 4-5 days after symptoms start, body rashes appear. Some well known and common symptoms of measles are explained below :

  • Hacking cough
  • Red eyes
  • Muscle pain
  • Running nose
  • Sore throat
  • Sore inside the mouth
  • Running nose
  • Red blotchy skin rashes


Measles will lead to chronic complications if not treated properly. Some major complications are further explained in this article.

  • Ear infection – In about one out of every 10 children who suffer from measles also suffer from loss of hearing.
  • Severe diarrhea – Diarrhoea is reported in less than one percent of the population.
  • Children below 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age may suffer from complications.
  • Pregnant women can give birth to a premature child or low weighed baby if they didn’t get vaccinated by the MMR vaccine.
  • People who got an infection of lungs such as pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain) can die.
  • The most common cause of death in young children from measles is due to pneumonia.
  • Out of every 1000 children who get infected with measles die from respiratory and neurologic complications.
  • Long term complications may occur in people with measles infection.
  •  Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis a very rare but fatal disease of the central nervous system which generally develops 7 to 10 years after a person has measles or either when a person seems to be fully recovered.
  • During the resurgence in the United States from 1989 to 1991, 4 out of 11 every 100,000 were estimated to be at the risk of developing SSPE if they got infected due to measles.
  • Children who get infected due to measles before 2 years of age are at a higher risk of developing SSPE.

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Rashes appear all over the body of the infected person but a blood test is recommended. Diagnosis can be done by observing symptoms like high fever, rashes, cough, running nose, infected eyes, sore throat, blotchy skin, etc.

Treatment for Measles

No specific treatment is there for measles infection. Symptoms generally appear within 2-3 weeks. Usually, doctors recommend medications.

  • To improve the immune system.
  • To reduce muscle pain and fever.
  • To reduce cough and sore throat.

Children must visit doctors regularly for better treatment and speedy recovery. Also, they are kept in isolation until their recovery.

Prevention of Measles

There is no specific treatment for Measles. It is advisable to follow all precautions to prevent measles.
Prevention include:

  • Vaccination of children within 12 months of their birth.
  • The second dose should be given between the ages of  4-6.
  • A vaccine which is called triple vaccine MMR prevents three diseases Mumps, Measles, and Rubella.
  • Treating the disease in early stage

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Difference Between Measles and Rubella


  • Measles is more contagious than rubella
  • High fever as high as 40° c,  is observed in measles.
  • One of the symptoms of measles is that it causes rashes and blotches which lasts for a longer period of time.
  • Lymph nodes are not always swollen in case of measles.
  • Symptoms in measles are seen in the form of Koplik spots.


  • It is less contagious than measles.
  • Rubella causes a low fever.
  • Rashes of rubella fade faster.
  • In rubella, lymph nodes are always swollen.

Symptoms in rubella are seen in the form of schheimer spots.

  1. As a part of child routine vaccination, When is the measles vaccine given?

The vaccination for Measles is the MMR vaccine. Measles vaccination first dose is given at the age of 12 months and the second dose is given at the age of 4-6 years. Teenagers and older children should also be given 2 doses of MMR vaccine. An infant between 6-11 months is sometimes recommended vaccination while traveling an area where there is measles. We should always keep the record of vaccines given to our children. We can speak to our local health unit for more information about measles vaccination.

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