Measles is a viral infection that can give rise to unpleasant symptoms and serious complications. Its initial symptoms may develop within 10 days after infection .These symptoms may include flu-like symptoms, cough, runny nose, chest tightness, red eyes, sensitivity to light, fever, and greyish white spots in the mouth and throat. After these initial symptoms, there may be a reddish-brown rash which may start behind the ears and spread to the head and the neck. It may also spread into other parts of the body.
The measles virus is highly infectious. It can infect other people in the form of tiny droplets that can spread into the air from the mouth or nose during a sneeze or a cough. A person can easily acquire the infection be breathing these droplets or by touching the area where the droplets have settled then by placing his or her hands on the nose or mouth. The measles virus can stay in surfaces and survive there for a few hours. Once the virus gets inside the body, it then multiplies at the back of your throat and may spread into the lungs before spreading to other parts of the body.
After a person is infected, he or she is infectious for about four days after the rash appears. Thus people or children who have the rash should not go to school or work for four days after the rash has first appeared. This is to limit the spread of infections among other people.
So who would most likely get measles? Anyone can be infected with measles if he or she has not been vaccinated against it. Anyone can also be at risk if he or she hasn't has measles in the past. The most susceptible age groups are children who are between one and four years old. People who have had measles in the past cannot develop infection in the future because their bodies are able to build up immunity to the virus.
Measles can be prevented with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The first dose of the measles vaccine should be given when the child is 13 months old and the second dose should be given when the child starts school. The MMR vaccine can also be given to adults and children who are 6 months to 13 months old if they are at risk of acquiring measles. If there is an outbreak of measles on a local area, vaccination is recommended.
Measles has no specific treatment. The body should be strong enough to fight off infection within 7 to 10 days. The patient should have adequate rest during the course of infection. He or she should reduce light sensitivity by closing the curtains, cleaning the eyes using damp cotton wool, taking paracetamol and ibuprofen to relieve aches and pains and fever and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
If the measles case is severe, there may be complications, so that the patient may need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment. If untreated, measles may give rise to serious complications such as pneumonia or encephalitis of the brain. Those who are at risk for developing complications include those babies younger than 12 months, children who have poor nourishment and are of poor health, teenagers and adults.
New Drug for Measles Discovered
Researchers at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, the Emory Institute for Drug Development and the Paul-Ehrlich Institute in Germany have developed a new antiviral drug which may protect people from measles infection and prevent them from spreading the virus. These researchers have tested this drug on animals that were infected with a virus which is similar to that of measles. The virus levels were significantly reduced after the infected animals were given the drug through mouth. The drug also prevented the animals from dying from the disease. The researchers remarked that this drug can be produced at a cost-effective price, can be stocked and can be given through mouth. The researchers aim to eradicate measles and prevent its spread during local outbreaks.
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