In the year 2000, the United States was proud to declare that they had completely eradicated measles from the country. This was not to last for long since the disease is back, and in a big way. The Centre for Disease Control, CDC, has said that parents should be extra-vigilant and watch their children for signs of the disease. Although the disease is rarely fatal, it can cause a lot of problems for the child. Measles can cause encephalitis, a condition where there is a lot of fluid in the brain. This can cause convulsions. Measles also leaves the child with an ear infection (10% of all reported cases). 8% of the affected children will end up developing diarrhea, to an extent that they may require hospitalization. It is important that you get immunized against this disease which is very contagious. If a person with measles sneezes, 9 out of 10 people in the vicinity will get the disease is they are not vaccinated. Here are the signs of measles.
Once infected by the Rubella virus, the causative agent of measles, there is an incubation period of 10 to 14 days before the disease starts manifesting. The virus multiplies rapidly during this incubation period. There are two steps that will tell you if the child is suffering from measles.
Stage 1 – The child will have a high fever, accompanied by coughing and a runny nose. The child may also develop conjunctivitis (Inflammation of the conjunctiva). The child will be less playful and may complain of fatigue. The child will also lose all appetite.
Stage 2 – After 2 to 4 days, the child will develop a rash starting from the face and slowly moving down to the abdomen, and finally to the arms and legs. The rash seems to have a uniform color when viewed from a distance, and the spots are usually very small, but they tend to cluster together as more of them are formed. Look at the inside cheek of the child and you will see if they have whitish-gray spots, Koplik spots, which are an indication of Red Measles. After the rash dissipates, the skin may dry up and begin peeling as if the child had a bad case of sunburn.
Although considered to be a mild disease, Red Measles can lead to several other diseases and conditions. People who have had Red Measles will be at greater risk of developing pneumonia and bacterial ear infections. Many infants have lost their lives due to pneumonia that has been induced by measles. This is especially serious for the newborn children. Encephalitis is very rare and occurs in one out of a thousand measles cases. Encephalitis can be life threatening and this is the reason why this disease is very serious. Malnourished people, and persons with weak immune systems, such as those with HIV, are susceptible to contracting Red Measles.
German measles (Rubella)
Rubella or German measles has milder symptoms as compared to Red Measles. Once infected, the patient will also undergo an incubation period of 10 to 14 days. The disease comes with fatigue, headaches, red eyes, low-grade fever, and finally the rash. This tends to attack adults more than it does children. The rash associated with German measles is light red in color, as opposed to the dark red of the red measles. It starts off as single spots which then merge into larger ones. As with the other case, the rash will start in the face, move to the trunk and then to the arms and legs. The rash is not itchy, and when it clears up, the skin will also shed. In grown women, the disease will leave them suffering from joint pains for a few days to a few weeks after the infection has cleared up. The pain comes to the wrist, fingers, and knees.
This form of measles is usually so mild that the whole infection may clear up without any serious symptoms. Usually such a passing will be marked by swollen lymph nodes.
The Rubella virus is very dangerous when it infects a pregnant woman. This leads to congenital rubella, and it causes birth defects in the child. The child may have cataracts, poor hearing, learning disabilities and heart defects. This is most serious when the infection occurs in early pregnancy. The disease can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths.