Measles 101 with Dr. Jawwad Hussain

What is Measles? Measles is a highly contagious childhood respiratory disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. Measles (also called rubeola) starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat, and is followed by a rash that spreads all over the body.  Today, measles can almost always be prevented with a vaccine. Measles can be serious and even fatal for small children. While death rates have been falling worldwide as more children receive the measles vaccine, the disease still kills more than 100,000 people a year, most under the age of 5. 

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Measles? The symptoms of measles generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected.

Measles typically begins with

  • high fever,
  • cough,
  • runny nose (coryza), and
  • red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis).

Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth.

Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rashbreaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104° Fahrenheit. After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.

About three out of 10 people who get measles will develop one or more complications including pneumonia, ear infections, or diarrhea. Complications are more common in adults and young children. 

How Can You Catch Measles? Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Also, measles virus can live for up to two hours on a surface or in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.

Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before to four days after the rash appears.

Measles is a disease of humans; measles virus is not spread by any other animal species.

How Can You Prevent Getting the Measles? If someone in your household has measles, take these precautions to protect vulnerable family and friends:

Isolation. Because measles is highly contagious from about four days before to four days after the rash breaks out, people with measles shouldn’t return to activities in which they interact with other people during this period. It may also be necessary to keep nonimmunized siblings away from the infected person.

Vaccinate. Be sure that anyone who’s at risk of getting the measles who hasn’t been fully vaccinated receives the measles vaccine as soon as possible. This includes anyone born after 1957 who hasn’t been vaccinated, as well as infants older than 6 months.

Hussain HeadshotDr. Hussain is accepting new patients ages 0-100+. To make an appointment with Dr. Hussain, please call Vista Medical Center at 773.239.9100. To view Dr. Hussain’s profile, please visit http://www.lcmh.org/physicians/details.cfm?pageID=270&doctorID=730

Dr. Hussain practices at:

Vista Medical Center

10961 South Kedzie Avenue

Chicago, IL 60655

Phone (773) 239-9100

 

Outpatient Care Center

6700 West 95th St.

Oak Lawn, IL 60453

Phone (708) 974-7300

 

*Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). *

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