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Measles have been nearly eradicated throughout the United States, with about 50 cases being reported in 2002, and fewer cases thereafter. However, in much of the world, measles still has resulted in 75,000 annual deaths of young children and serious illness for hundreds of thousands more.

Measles is a serious respiratory infection that is accompanied by large red blotches all over the skin. Vaccination programs throughout the U.S. have been widely successful at keeping the disease at bay, but the vast majority of third world countries are unable to thoroughly vaccinate their populations.


10 to 12 days after exposure to the measles virus, symptoms typically begin to develop. Symptoms may include dry cough, fever, runny nose, conjunctivitis, sensitivity to light, tiny red spots with little white or blue tinted centers that line the inside of the cheeks, and round flat blotchy spots the are known to flow into each other. Often the measles begins with mild symptoms for a few days before the rashes begin to develop. Runny nose, low fever, and cough often begin accompanied by a low fever and then when the rashes begin to appear, the fever spikes to a high fever and symptoms worsen. The rash and severe symptoms last for approximately one week and then symptoms return to a low grade fever, runny nose, and cough for the next few days.
Image: Measles


Measles are caused by a virus. The virus can infect over 90% of un-immunized individuals that an infected patient comes in contact with. Measles are considered one of the most contagious viruses in the common world today. The virus, which lives on the mucous and in the phlegm of the throat of the infected patient, is actively contagious for four days before the rash appears. Measles is commonly spread when the infected patient coughs, talks, laughs, sneezes, or touches surfaces or people with infected hands. Once the virus inhabits the body, it grows inside the back of the throat and down into the lungs.

While most Americans have been vaccinated against the measles, measles is a highly contagious disease that can infect anyone who not immune. There are no risk factors for developing measles for those who are not immunized or who have not previously experienced the measles. Once a patient has experienced the measles the body develops a natural immunity. Patients who have lived through outbreaks but never developed symptoms more than likely had the measles but never developed symptoms.


Most physicians can diagnose measles based on the rash as well as the rash that forms on the inside of the cheeks. Measles creates a very distinctive rash that can be determined through a visual examination. In the United States, the incident rate of measles is so low that physicians may obtain a blood sample in an effort to confirm the diagnosis.
Infectious disease
Image: Infectious Disease

Low platelet count, complications during pregnancy, ear infection, the brain infection encephalitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, vomiting, bronchitis, laryngitis, and croup are all possible complications related to the measles. Patients who develop secondary infections or other serious health complications during their bought with the measles are likely to have fatal reactions to the disease. All patients should be monitored closely to determine the onset of secondary infections and other health complications.


There is on treatment for the measles except over the counter products to help alleviate the discomfort of symptoms. Antibodies can be given to infants within 72 hours of exposure. Antibodies can be given to pregnant women and patients with a compromised immune system within 6 days of exposure. These antibodies can help the exposed patient resist the infection before it completely grows into full blown measles.

Keeping patients hydrated and providing them with ample rest and attending to their levels of comfort is the best care that can be given at this time. There is no treatment, thus making the patient as comfortable as possible and preventing dehydration is the only recourse.
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