Measles is a severe and highly contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus. It is not “an ordinary infection that all children should have.” Sometimes measles is called “red measles” (or rubeola). It should not be confused with “German measles,” which is another name for rubella.
What are the symptoms of measles?
Measles begins with a fever, aches and pains, runny nose, a severe cough (often bronchitis, an infection of the airways) and very red eyes. You may think your child has a cold.
In a few days, a reddish blotchy rash begins around the face and head, then spreads down to the body, arms and legs. Bright light may cause eye pain.
Measles can cause an ear infection or pneumonia (a serious disease where breathing becomes difficult).
In severe cases, measles can cause swelling of the brain, which is called encephalitis. This can lead to seizures, permanent brain damage, hearing loss, or death.
How does measles spread?
Measles is mainly spread through the air. It can be caught just by being in a room with a person with measles or where someone with measles has been recently. The virus can survive in the air for an hour or more.
When someone with measles coughs or sneezes, droplets may directly land in another person’s nose or mouth.
Children are very contagious up to 4 days before the rash starts and before the illness is diagnosed.
Measles is very contagious. If you have not been vaccinated or already had measles, you will probably get it if you are in the same room as someone who has it.
When should I call the doctor?
Call the doctor immediately if you think your child has measles. Let the receptionist know if you think your child could have measles. He should not wait in the same room as other children.
How can I protect my child?
There is no cure for measles. You can protect your child by making sure she is vaccinated.