Measles Outbreaks: What You Need to Know
The recent outbreaks of measles have caused concern among health officials and the public. Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that can lead to serious complications, especially in young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.
In this post, we will discuss what measles is, how it spreads, symptoms, prevention measures, treatments available for individuals infected with measles virus and how you can protect yourself against this dangerous disease.
What Is Measles?
Measles is an acute respiratory illness caused by the measles virus. It typically starts with fever, coughing and a runny nose followed by a red rash that appears on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. Complications from measles can include pneumonia (which may require hospitalization), ear infections leading to hearing loss or meningitis.
How Does Measles Spread?
The measles virus spreads through contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. The virus can also live on surfaces for up to two hours after being deposited by an infected person.
Unvaccinated people are at high risk of contracting measles if they come into close contact with someone carrying the virus in their nasal secretions. This makes it important for parents who do not vaccinate their children as well as those who are unvaccinated themselves to take extra precautions when travelling or participating in large public gatherings where there might be many people around them.
Symptoms of Measles
The initial symptoms of measles begin about 7-14 days after exposure to the virus and include:
– High fever
– Runny nose
– Red eyes (conjunctivitis)
– Rash (beginning at hairline spreading down face & rest of body)
After several days these symptoms disappear only to reappear again within one week along with a characteristic rash which eventually covers the entire body.
Complications of Measles
Measles can lead to serious complications, especially in young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. These complications include:
– Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
– Ear infections leading to hearing loss
– Meningitis (inflammation of the lining around the brain)
The best way to prevent measles is through vaccination. The measles vaccine is highly effective and safe for all healthy individuals over 12 months old who haven’t had a previous adverse reaction to it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that children receive two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine:
– The first dose at 12–15 months of age,
– And second dose between ages four and six years old.
Adults born after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or had natural infection should receive at least one dose if they are in high-risk environments such as healthcare facilities or travel overseas where outbreaks are common.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’ve received the measles vaccine, contact your doctor’s office for a copy of your immunization record.
There is no specific treatment available for measles; however, most people recover fully within a few weeks with rest and supportive care provided by their healthcare providers. Treatment options may include:
– Resting until symptoms subside.
– Pain relievers like Tylenol or Motrin can be used to reduce fever.
– Drinking plenty of fluids helps in staying hydrated.
– Antibiotics are used only when bacterial infections occur due to secondary invasion from other organisms.
If you think that you have contracted measles virus, it’s important to isolate yourself immediately from others while seeking medical attention. This will help prevent further spread of the virus among those who might be susceptible including infants, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals.
Measles is a serious disease that can have severe consequences if not treated in time. The best way to protect yourself from measles is through vaccination which is highly effective and safe for all healthy individuals over 12 months old who haven’t had a previous adverse reaction to it. If you suspect that you have contracted the virus, seek medical attention as soon as possible while isolating yourself from others to prevent further spread of the infection.
By taking these precautions and following preventive measures outlined by World Health Organization (WHO), we can work together to stop the outbreak of this dangerous and highly contagious illness.