By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus belonging to the paramyxovirus family. It is one of the leading causes of deaths among children globally. According to the World Health Organization, 145700 persons died of measles in 2013, most of them are children under the age of 5.
Measles is a human disease normally transmitted directly and through the air. It infects the mucous membranes then spreads throughout the body.
The first sign of measles is a high fever (≥40 ͦC) that lasts 4-7 days, malaise, cough, conjunctivitis, followed by a rash. Infected people are usually contagious 4 days before they develop rashes and 4 days afterwards. Though moderately severe, measles can result in complications such as encephalitis, diarrhea, blindness, inflammation of the brain and pneumonia.
Persons exposed to the measles infection are:

  • ·         Children with immunodeficiences

  • ·         People that travel to measles –endemic areas or those that closely associate with those that have been there.

  • ·         Unvaccinated young children and pregnant women.

  • ·         Infants who lose passive antibody before the age for routine immunization.

Measles is preventable by vaccination. The vaccine is safe, effective and inexpensive. In Nigeria, it has been incorporated with mumps and rubella vaccines. Infection with measles provides a life-long immunity against the virus.
No antiviral treatments exist for measles. However, severe complications may be avoided through supportive care that ensures good nutrition, treatment of dehydration through adequate fluid intake and intake of oral rehydration salt. Pain relievers will help relief fevers and aches. Antibiotics may be taken to treat any secondary infection. Vitamin A supplements should be given to prevent damage to the eye and help boost low vitamin A levels. Vitamin A supplements have been shown to reduce the number of deaths from measles by 50%.  Enough rest is necessary to boost immune function, so rest, rest and rest.
The CDC has scientifically proven that no evidence links the combined measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. The benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. 


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