What is Measles?
Measles is a highly contagious -- but rare-- respiratory infection that is caused by a virus. It causes a total body skin rash and flu-like symptoms, including a fever, cough and runny nose lasting 1 to 2 weeks.
Since measles is caused by a virus, symptoms typically go away on their own without medical treatments once the virus has run its course. But while your child is sick, it's important to make sure that he or she has plenty of fluids and rest, and to keep your child from spreading the infection to others. If you have any concerns about your child's condition, talk to your child's doctor.
How is Measles Spread?
Measles is highly contagious. When someone with measles sneezes or coughs, he or she can spread the virus droplets through the air and infect others. It is highly contagious, and 90% of people who haven't been vaccinated for measles will get it if they live in the same household as an infected person. If your child has been diagnosed with measles, it is important to closely monitor him or her for fever and other symptoms to spot any complications.
What are the symptoms?
While measles is probably best known for the full-body rash that it causes, the first symptoms of the infection are usually a hacking cough, runny nose, high fever, and watery red eyes. Another marker of measles is koplik's spots, small red spots with blue-white centers that appear inside the mouth.
The measles rash typically has a red or reddish brown blotchy appearance, and first usually shows up on the forehead, then spreads downward over the face, neck, and body, then down to the feet. The symptoms of measles usually last for 2 weeks.
How can Measles be treated?
Children with measles should be encouraged to drink plenty of clear fluids to replace bodily fluids lost in the heat and sweating of fever episodes. Use a cool mist vaporizer to relieve cough and to soothe breathing passages. Clean the vaporizer each day to prevent mold from growing. Children with measles should get extra rest to help them recover. It is usually safe for your child to return to school 7 to 10 days after the fever and rash go away. But to be sure, check with your child's doctor.
Can Measels be prevented?
Immunization is the most effective way to prevent measles.
How serious are Measles?
Measles normally do not require emergency care. In some cases, measles can lead to other health problems, such as croup, and infections like bronchitis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, conjunctivitis (pink eye), myocarditis and encephalitis. Measles can also make the body more susceptible to ear infections and other health problems caused by bacteria.
Where can you get more information?
Your family physician, school Health Office, or local health department are excellent sources for information on all communicable diseases.
Parents of students with communicable diseases are asked to telephone the school health office so that other students who have been exposed to the disease can be alerted. Students with diseases are not allowed to come to school while they are contagious.