Measles has hit the news in the UK over the last two days raising a number of questions being sent to me by email.
So here is a quick rundown on what to watch out for and a few links to sites with further information.
Signs and Symptoms
Measles is very easy to catch and is usually caught by droplet contact from an infected person who is coughing. Be aware that the virus will live on surfaces for up to two hours and can infect anyone who comes into contact with the surface within that time frame. The virus can also be caught by touching or kissing that person.
Anyone of any age can catch the virus but it is most common in children age 1 to 4.
There is an increased risk at the moment for babies under 1, anyone who is pregnant and anyone who is generally rundown.
Children who have not had the MMR vaccine are also at risk.
After exposure to the virus, symptoms can take 10 to 14 days to appear. These appear as cold symptoms with runny nose, cough, fever and conjunctivitis.
A few days later white spots appear inside the mouth in the lining of the cheek.
The measles rash which is a fine red rash will appear a few days later first behind the ear and then will spread down and across the body eventually appearing blotchy before joining together. It should fade after four to five days and you may see signs of skin peeling.
The person may for the next fourteen days suffer nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain together with diarrhoea.
Nursery or school age children need to be kept off school on average 5 to 6 days after the first appearance of the rash. However a child that is suffering discomfort or pain should be kept off longer until these symptoms reduce.
Ensure the person sees a doctor, measles is a notifiable disease and diagnosis is confirmed by a simple saliva test.
Encourage plenty of fluid intake and the use of fever reducing medication appropriate to the age of the patient. Most patients are treated at home and advised to seek further advice if there are any complications.
Be aware that the patient is infectious one day before symptoms start which means approximately 4 to 5 days before the rash appears. It is advisable to notify friends and family if you suspect they had contact with the patient at that time period.
Measles risk is reduced by correct vaccination. All parents should be encouraged to ensure that children have received the MMR vaccine.
Links are below: