Measles

21:55 - 4 May , 2021

Disease

What is Measles?

This condition with a high rate of contagion and prevalence in children, is a respiratory infection caused by a virus of the paramyxovirus family that mainly affects the nose and throat.  It is spread through the droplets of fluids emitted when coughing, sneezing, or speaking, which can be inhaled or fall on any surface, and if someone makes contact with them and then touches their lips, nose, or eyes they can contract the virus that remains active for hours.  Measles is a serious disease that can be fatal, especially in children under five years old. As the use of the vaccine has spread worldwide, the number of infections and deaths has decreased, but it is a disease that is still very active, so it is necessary to continue promoting responsible vaccination against this virus.

Symptoms

The characteristic symptoms begin to show from the end of the virus incubation period, which is between 8 and 15 days after infection: 
  • Small white spots in the oral cavity.
  • Reddish rashes on the skin accompanied by spots of the same color. 
  • High fever.
  • Cough without phlegm.
  • Congestion and runny nose.
  • Irritated and sore throat.
  • Conjunctivitis.
There are four phases of measles virus infection and in total they can last three to four weeks:
  • Infection/incubation: after infection, the virus requires 8 to 15 days to incubate. There are no symptoms in this phase. 
  • General symptoms: it is the early phase of the disease, where symptoms that are not exclusive to measles begin to appear, so they can be confused with other conditions. It lasts three to four days. 
  • Exacerbation of symptoms and skin rashes: at this stage the fever increases considerably and the characteristic measles rashes appear, first on the face and then on the upper and lower limbs. 
  • Contagion phase: lasts from eight to 10 days, a period that begins four or five days before the eruptive outbreak and ends when the outbreak has lasted four or five more days. 
This condition can trigger a series of serious complications, such as:
  • Laryngeal and bronchial involvement.
  • Bacterial infections in the ear. 
  • Encephalitis.
  • Premature birth and maternal death.
  • Serious pneumonia infections. 

Diagnosis and treatment

Once your doctor analyzes your symptoms and your medical history, he or she will perform a physical examination to observe the type of skin lesions inside your mouth or on the rest of the body. However, these rashes can also be due to other diseases, so it is necessary to perform a blood test, throat swab, or urine test to confirm the diagnosis.  As it is a viral condition, there is no cure or specific therapy, but it is usually treated with painkillers, anti-inflammatories, vitamin A supplement, and antibiotics if an additional bacterial infection has developed. In the event that you have been exposed to the virus and still do not develop symptoms, it is advisable to apply the vaccine, which does not guarantee that you will not acquire the disease, but it does help to make it milder and of shorter duration.  The application of antibodies through immune serum globulin is also suggested in pregnant women, infants, and immunosuppressed adults to strengthen the immune system, preventing the disease or alleviating the symptoms’ intensity.  At the Pediatrics Center we provide specialized care to our small patients from birth to adulthood, through our pediatric, oncology, neurology, and cardiology services at the level of the best medical centers in the world.

Fuentes:

  • kidshealth.org
  • medlineplus.gov
  • mayoclinic.org
  • msdmanuals.com
  • healthline.com
  • cigna.com
  • cun.es
  • medigraphic.com
  • García-Carrillo LE, Coria-Lorenzo JJ, Alonso-Pérez NC, et al. Sarampión en México, 2020. Acta Pediatr Mex. 2021;42(3):128-141.
  • Ramírez-Sánchez SC. El antiguo enemigo resurge: el sarampión está de vuelta. Rev Enferm IMSS. 2020;28(2):71-74.
  • Vargas-Soler JA, Morales-Camacho WJ, Plata-Ortiz S, et al. Sarampión en pediatría: el resurgir de una enfermedad prevenible por vacunación. Rev Mex Pediatr. 2020;87(1):30-37. doi:10.35366/93266. 
  • Díaz RRD. Sarampión. La necesidad de mantener la alerta. Enf Infec Microbiol. 2020;40(1):5-7.
The dissemination of the content of this material is for informational purposes only and does not replace, under any circumstance or condition, a consultation with a specialist doctor, for which the ABC Medical Center is not responsible for the different use that may be given to it. If you require more information related to the subject, we suggest you contact the specialist doctor you trust directly.