Measles virus is the most contagious in the world

Measles is caused by a virus that is highly contagious. Along with chickenpox it is most contagious. It is transmitted by the respiratory route, ie through sneezing and coughing and affects mostly children and young adults.

measles virus structureIts incubation period is 2 weeks, according to pediatricians, because it is not so known, many cases may go unnoticed. It can spread 2 or 3 days before the first symptoms and 1 week after the rash appears on the body. The first symptoms are a cold with great involvement, with high fever, stuffy nose, dry cough and red eyes, which may be accompanied by malaise, muscle pain, tenderness to light (photophobia) and swelling (edema) in the eyelids; after the rash starts on the face it spreads to the body and limbs, including palms and soles. Coinciding with the start of the rash can be seen in the mucosa of the mouth over white spots that are very typical of the disease and may help diagnosis (Koplik spots) but remain very short time. In about 4-6 days, the rash fades in the same sense in which it appeared, leaving some flaking. Full recovery occurs about 7-10 days after onset of rash.

The best way to prevent new infections is patient privacy. Remember that many infections occur in Emergency services rooms. Therefore it is advisable that the patient is isolated until the end of the period of contagion.

Although considered a benign viral disease, Measles can cause complications even in healthy children. The most frequent are otitis media, diarrhea and pneumonia, but the most serious, although rare, are those that affect the central nervous system (brain, cerebellum, etc.) such as encephalitis. If measles affects people who have diminished its defenses (immunocompromised) or are malnourished (as in third world countries), evolution can be much more complicated and even endanger life.

Treatment is symptomatic ie antipyretics are used to control fever (paracetamol), common eye washes and offer plenty of fluids is recommended to prevent dehydration. No antibiotics are required, unless it has emerged bacterial infectious complications such as pneumonia, etc.

The best way to be protected is through vaccination, underlines this pediatrician. Measles vaccine is given along with vaccines of two other viral diseases: measles and mumps – MMR vaccine. The vaccine is administered within the two-dose vaccination schedule, starting with the first year of age and the second at a later time, which can range from 3-4 years to 11-14 years. The first dose gives 95% protection for the vaccinated, but the second – almost 100%.

There is always a risk of an outbreak, especially now, because more and more people are not protected. Therefore children should be vaccinated to prevent such problems.