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Measles: All You Need To Know About This Viral Disease; Expert Explains

Measles is an acute respiratory disease. During 2000- 2018, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 23.2 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health according to World Health Organization.

Measles: All You Need To Know About This Viral Disease; Expert Explains
Image Credits: Shutterstock

MUMBAI, Ranchi, Ahmedabad and Malappuram in Kerala have been continuously recording cases of measles recently, which is a highly contagious disease. Also known as Rubella, measles is an infectious disease that can be fatal to children. According to a report of the Measles and Rubella Initiative of 2019, measles kills around 300 children each day and it infects around 300 children each day and infects around 6 million people each year.

In an exclusive conversation with Dr Ankit Prasad, Senior Consultant and Unit Head (Paediatric Unit II), Fortis Hospital, Noida, we discussed all about this deadly disease.

According to Dr Prasad, measles is a viral disease which is caused by a single-stranded, enveloped RNA virus with one stereotype. The measles virus lives in the mucus of the nose and throat and can spread through air and direct contact with someone already infected with this disease. The measles virus is highly contagious, if you have not been vaccinated and come in contact with an already infected person, there are 90 per cent chance of yours of getting it.

Signs and Symptoms

Some common symptoms of this disease include runny nose, dry cough, sore throat, inflamed eyes, tiny red rashes all over the skin which start from the face and then spread down to arms, chest and back, tiny tiny white spots with bluish-white centres on a red background inside the mouth on the inner lining of the oral cavity. The fever developed during this disease can last for around 4 to 7 days.

Measles can lead to some severe complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, vomiting, ear infection, and encephalitis which can cause permanent brain damage and bronchitis.

People at high risk of developing measles illness are:
Infants and children < 5 years
Adults aged > 20 years
People with a compromised immune system
Pregnant women

Measles in Pregnant women

A woman diagnosed with measles should take extra care of themselves. It can cause low birth weight, premature birth and fetal death according to Dr Prasad.

Risk factors of Measles

1. Being unvaccinated: An individual who has not been vaccinated is at high risk of developing the disease.

2. Traveling internationally: Travelling to places where the disease is widely spread can put you at risk of developing measles.

3. Having a vitamin A deficiency: People with a deficiency of vitamin A in the body can experience severe symptoms and complications of measles.

Vaccination

As per Dr Prasad, measles can be prevented by getting vaccinated with the measles-containing vaccine, which is typically given as the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. For protection against measles, mumps, and rubella, children between the ages of 9 months and 12 years can receive the combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Students at post-high school educational institutions without evidence of measles immunity need two doses of MMR vaccine, with the second dose administered no earlier than 28 days after the first dose.

Some preventive measures such as avoiding contact with the infected person, and protecting infants of 8 months of age or older while travelling internationally or at places with a measles outbreak.

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