Measles (Morbilli): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

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Measles (Morbilli): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and sometimes lead to serious complications. Anyone can get measles if they haven’t been vaccinated or haven’t had it before, although it’s most common in young children. The infection usually clears in around 7 to 10 days.

MMR vaccine is highly effective in preventing measles infection. Measles is common in many countries around the world, and currently there are several large measles outbreaks across Europe.

Self diagnosis : If you see these signs and symptoms, you’ve probably got measles

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers on a red background found inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek — also called Koplik’s spots.

Without immunization programs, disease is ubiquitous. Although global disease burden has been reduced significantly by immunization programs and global measles deaths decreased from 550,100 in 2000 to 89,780 in 2016, measles remains a leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in children under age 5 and a significant cause of morbidity. Most morbidity and mortality due to measles occurs in low-income countries with poor health infrastructure.

 How does Measles affect your body?

Measles virus is spread from person to person through the air in coughed-out aerosolized droplets that are inhaled. The virus typically first comes in contact with host lung tissue, where it infects immune cells called macrophages and dendritic cells, which serve as an early defense and warning system. From there, the infected cells migrate to the lymph nodes where they transfer the virus to B and T cells. A surface protein on these white blood cells, known as CD150, serves as the virus’s point of entry during this critical step. The infected B and T cells then migrate throughout the body releasing virus particles into the blood. The spleen, lymph nodes, liver, thymus, skin, and lungs are eventual destinations for the virus. In rare instances (about one in 1000 cases), the virus can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause dangerous swelling of the brain; infection of lung cells causes a hacking cough that keeps the virus circulating in the population.

What are the Causes of Measles?

Measles is caused by a type of virus called a paramyxovirus. It’s transmitted in tiny droplets when an infected person coughs, breathes, or sneezes. Unlike the influenza virus, the measles virus can’t survive for very long on objects like doorknobs and telephones. Nevertheless, it’s an airborne virus, which means it is highly contagious. Research shows that only 10% of unvaccinated people who share a house with a measles patient escape infection.

Know more: Migraine Causes | Traveller’s Dysentry Causes

What are the Risk Factors of Measles?

Following group of people have a higher chance of getting infected by measles :

  • Babies younger than 1 year old
  • Children with a poor diet
  • Children with a weakened immune system (such as those with leukaemia)
  • Teenagers and adults
Read more: PCOS Risk Factors | Enteric Fever Risk Factors

What are the symptoms of Measles?

Common initial symptoms include:

  • Cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing and a cough
  • Sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light
  • Fever which may reach around 40C (104F)
  • Small greyish-white spots on the inside of the cheeks
  • A few days later, a red-brown blotchy rash will appear. This usually starts on the head or upper neck before spreading outwards to the rest of the body.
Read more: Parkinson’s disease Symptoms

How is Measles diagnosed?

Your doctor can usually diagnose measles based on the disease’s characteristic rash as well as a small, bluish-white spot on a bright red background known as Koplik’s spot — on the inside lining of the cheek. However, many doctors have never seen measles, and the rash can be confused with a number of other illnesses. If necessary, a blood test can confirm whether the rash is truly measles.

Know more: Myositis Diagnosis | White Plague Diagnosis 

How to prevent & control Measles?

Measles can be prevented by having the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. This is given in 2 doses as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. The first dose is given when your child is around 13 months old, and a second dose is given at 3 years and 4 months.

Adults and older children can be vaccinated at any age if they haven’t been fully vaccinated before.

Treatment of Measles Allopathic Treatment

There’s no specific treatment for measles, the condition usually improves on it’s own, within 7 to 10 days. However, paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used to reduce a high temperature (fever) and relieve any aches or pains.

 Treatment of Measles Homeopathic Treatment

Common medications include :

  • Aconitum napellus
  • Bryonia
  • Euphrasia
  • Pulsatilla
  • Belladonna
  • Gelsemium
  • Kali bichromicum
  • Rhus toxicodendron
Also read: Stomach ulcer Treatment

Measles – Lifestyle Tips

  • Drink plenty of fluids – If you get a high temperature, make sure you drink plenty of fluids as you may be at risk of dehydration. Keeping hydrated may also help reduce throat discomfort caused by coughing.
  • Treating sore eyes – You can gently clean away any crustiness from your eyelids and lashes using cotton wool soaked in water.
  • Closing curtains or dimming lights can help if bright light is hurting your eyes.
  • Treating cold-like symptoms – If you get cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose or a cough, there are a number of things you can do to feel more comfortable. For example, sitting in a hot, steamy bathroom or putting a wet towel on a warm radiator to moisten the air, which may help ease your cough.
  • Drinking warm drinks, particularly ones containing lemon or honey, may also help to relax the airways, loosen mucus, and soothe a cough.

What are Recommended Exercises for Person with Measles?

No clinical data is available regarding this. Doctors usually recommend complete bed rest during measles infection.

Measles & Pregnancy – Things to know

If you’re not immune to measles and become infected while you’re pregnant, there’s a risk of:

  • Miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • Your baby being born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
  • Your baby having a low birth weight
  • If you’re pregnant and think you have come into contact with someone with measles and you know you’re not immune, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Common Complications Related to Measles

Common complications of measles include:

  • Diarrhoea and vomiting, which can lead to dehydration
  • Middle ear infection (otitis media), which can cause earache
  • Eye infection (conjunctivitis)
  • Inflammation of the voice box (laryngitis)
  • Infections of the airways and lungs (such as pneumonia, bronchitis and croup)
  • Fits caused by a fever (febrile seizures)

Other FAQs about Measles

Q. How long does it take to recover from measles?

A. It takes an average of 10–12 days from exposure to the first symptom, which is usually fever. The measles rash doesn’t usually appear until approximately 14 days after exposure, 2–3 days after the fever begins. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite, “pink eye,” and a rash.

Q. Is measles contagious for adults?

A. Measles is a highly contagious virus found throughout the world. People get measles by breathing in the measles virus that is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. You can get measles just by being in the same room with an infected person.


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