Measles Virus

B A B Y  A N D C H I L D


Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus which is transmitted by the inhalation of infected droplets associated with coughing, sneezing and kissing.

One attack confers permanent immunity.

Measles is generally a childhood disease. It rarely occurs before the age of 4 months and in Australia tends to occur in the child who attends pre-school with their first exposure to the more crowded environment.

The incidence of measles in Australia has decreased in recent years due to the introduction of the measles vaccine which should be given to all children between the age of 12 to 15 months and no earlier than 12 months.

The incubation period is approximately 10 days to the appearance of a dry cough, fever and red inflamed eyes. The eye irritation is worsened by bright light.

Inside the mouth on the cheek wall, you may be able to pick out Koplick spots which are like little grains of find sugar on the red inflamed lining in the mouth. These spots only last a couple of days.

After four days of the miseries with varying flu-like discomfort, the measles rash makes its appearance and this is two weeks after the initial contact. The rash is a blotchy red colour and starts behind the ears, spreads to the face and then to the body and finally to the limbs. It disappears in the same order.

A child is said to be infectious 7 days before and after the onset of the rash.

The fever which can be extremely high disappears on the third day after the appearance of the rash which also starts to fade at the same time. If the fever is still present 4 days after the appearance of the rash, it is wise to have your doctor check for complications. In some cases, a brownish stain which can last for 2 months appears on the skin over the site occupied by the rash.

Treatment consists of bed rest until the fever disappears, a cough mixture for the cough and paracetamol (not aspirin -see Apirin in Children) for the high fever and general discomfort. Bright light should be avoided and fluids should be given. Antibiotics are not effective against the measles virus but should be given if the attack is severe enough to justify their use to prevent the onset of serious and possible life threatening bacterial complications.

The complications of measles can involve the brain, chest and the ear and can be very serious. You should have your child vaccinated against measles to prevent this worry of a very uncomfortable infectious disease which can lead to serious complications and even death in rare cases.

Complications of the vaccination have been estimated to occur in 1 in a Million cases, whereas complications from measles itself occur in 1 in 1000.

- Aspirin and Young Children (Reyes Syndrome).- Autism.
- Bed Wetting or Nocturnal Enuresis. - Breast or Bottle Feeding.
- Chicken Pox (Varicella). - Childhood Immunization/Vaccination
- Convulsions in Childhood. - Croup.
- Cystic Fibrosis (CF). - Deafness in Childhood.
- Diarrhoea and Vomiting. - Downs Syndrome.
- Dyslexia. - Fever in Infants.
- German Measles (Rubella). -Heart Murmurs
-Heat Exhaustion in Children.-Hyperactivity in Childhood.
-Nappy Rash.-Normal Development (Baby Care).
-Speech Development in Children-Spina Bifida.
-Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Cot Death.-Teething.
-Your Baby Won't Sleep.-Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

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