Measles, also known as “rubeola”, is a very contagious respiratory infection that is caused by a virus which is known to cause serious illness or even death. This disease usually affects children. This disease kills more than 100,000 people a year, most are children under the age of 5. There is a vaccine for it but it doesn’t completely prevent you from getting measles. Although measles is pretty rare in the United States because of the immunization, there are still 20 million cases that break out worldwide every year. Before measles vaccination was a thing every year more than 500,000 cases were reported, and about 500 people would die from it. The people that are at most high risk of getting measles are infants who aren’t old enough to get the vaccination, pregnant women, and people that have poor nutrition or not very good immune systems. Measles can last for several weeks, but the symptoms slowly start to go away within 7 – 10 days.
How measles spreads:
Measles can spread to other people through coughing and sneezing. The most common way of getting measles is after someone sneezes or coughs, the virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace. If other people breathe the contaminated air in or touch the contaminated surface where someone with the virus sneezed or coughed then they touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected with the virus. Measles is so contagious that if one person in the area has it, 90% of the people close around who are not immune will also be infected. People that have been infected can spread measles to another person four days before all the way until four days after the rash appears. Measles also is a disease that only affects humans, it is not spread by any other animal species.
Signs and symptoms:
Measles signs and symptoms most of the time appear 10 – 14 days after you have come in contact with the virus. In the beginning stage of measles the signs and symptoms most often start with a dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, high fever, and red or inflamed eyes. Two or three days after these symptoms appear one will usually see koplik spots show up. Koplik spots are little red spots with bluish white centers that are about the size of a small grain of sand. The spots generally start inside the mouth and then the spots spread to the inside of the cheek. The last symptom to appear is reddish rash that covers the entire body.
The best way to be safe from getting measles is making sure you get immunized. Usually children get their first measles shot when they are 12-15 months old and then they get a booster shot a few years later at ages 4-6 years old, which is required before entering into schools in the United States. This immunization brought the United States measle break outs down to just 37 people in 2004. People who have already had measles are probably not going to get it again because more than likely their body has built up an immunity to the virus.
Treatment for Measles:
There is no prescription that can treat measles. Generally lots of rest and staying hydrated can help in making you feel better. To ease a headache or fever take non aspirin fever medication like ibuprofen. At this time there is no 100% cure for measles but they do have ways to help prevent it.
Measles Outbreaks in U.S.history:
Measles usually cycle in the U.S. every 2 to 3 years. Before measles vaccine was invented in 1963, it was a given that most children would end up getting measles at some point in their childhood. Even some doctors believed that there were over 5 million cases a year before the vaccine was invented. After 1963 when most children were immunized the reported cases dropped to below 500,000 children. In the most recent years the greatest outbreak of measles was 53,000 children.