Measles

What Is Measles?

Measles is caused by an RNA virus with only one serotype. Humans are the only known host for this virus. This illness presents with the “3 C’s”: cough, Coryza (catarrhal inflammation in the nose) and conjunctivitis. This is accompanied by fever, malaise and the development of a rash. The rash is often the last symptom to appear. It starts on the head and travels downward. The most significant sign for measles is the presence of Koplik spots (whitish-grey spots) that appear on the buccal mucosa.
Measles can be transmitted by air and is considered a highly communicable disease. The virus resides in the nose and throat and is transmitted by coughing and sneezing. It can survive up to two hours on a surface and in the airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed. About 90% of persons exposed will develop the disease.

The incubation period is 7–21 days after exposure. Rash may not be present until 14 days. A patient is considered contagious from four days before until four days after the rash appears.

Your best protection: If not already protected by having had the disease, get vaccinated.

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