Measles is one of the most common infectious diseases of childhood. It spreads very rapidly and caused by a specific virus, which is present in the nasal discharges and skin scrapings. The incubation period for this is around 8 to 10 days. In adults it may be slightly longer.
The course of the disease may be divided into 2 stages:
1. Pre-Eruptive Stage:
This stage lasts for 3-4 days and is characterised by symptoms of fever, coughing, sneezing, and running of nose and redness of eyes. A day or the before the appearance of rash, “Koplik’s spots” appear on the gum and inside the cheeks. They are small, bluish-white spots on a red base.
2. Eruptive stage:
A generalised skin rash appears about the 4th day of illness. The rash is bright pink or red in colour and is first noted on the face and neck. Gradually it is fully out affecting the whole body and limbs on the 4th day. By 5th or 6th day, the rash begins to fade, leaving a brownish discoloration.
Measles is known to have a number of complications of most common are diarrhea pneumonia, bronchitis etc.
Mode of spread
Transmission of these diseases occurs mainly by droplet infection. The main portal of entry is the respiratory tract and also through conjunctiva. It is highly infectious during the preemptive stage and at the time of eruption. Measles tends to be very severe in the malnourished child.
Symptomatic treatment is given. The patient should be kept isolated and should not be exposed. Regular nursing care of the mouth, lips and eyes are needed to be taken. All the foods in adequate quantity must be given to the child otherwise the child may become malnourished. Plenty of food/water should be given.
One attack of measles is followed by life long immunity. Measles vaccine should be given to the babies before the age of nine months.