Measles, also called rubeola, is a highly contagious viral disease. It is more prevalent in kids and spreads easily, especially at creches and nurseries. But, it rarely occurs in kids below 6 months of age. This is because during pregnancy babies receive antibodies from the mother—the efficacy of antibodies is maintained by breastfeeding the baby after birth.
Symptoms Associated With Measles
Measles don’t immediately break out in the form of body rashes. The initial symptoms include coughing, running nose, high fever, red and painful eyes, and diarrhea in certain cases. The rashes generally appear 3-5 days after the first symptoms show. They first pop up on the forehead and behind the ear as greyish-white dots over tiny red spots—also called Koplik’s spots. Initially, they are tiny, but quickly increase in size and number, spreading to the neck, torso and then to arms, legs, and feet. The rashes are accompanied by high fever—up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Measles if left untreated, can lead to other chronic diseases like pneumonia and bronchiectasis.
Treatment Against Measles
Measles is caused by a virus—there is no treatment for it. The symptoms last for about 2 weeks during which your kid must drink lots of fluids. If your child suffers from fever or pain, ask your doctor for a medicine to relieve the symptoms. Studies show that including Vitamin A in the diet can reduce the risk of developing complications in children1. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent any secondary bacterial infections in the course of the disease. Although you may not feel good about it, keep your child at home and away from others for at least till 4 days after the rashes disappear to prevent the infection from spreading.
Prevention From The Illness
According to the schedules set by the government, the first dose of vaccination against measles is offered as MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella) between 12th to 15th months of age. The second dose is to be received when your kid is 4 to 6 year old. Infants below 12 months of age are not given the vaccination. However, if there is a measles outbreak or the infant is traveling abroad, it must receive the vaccine between 6 months to 11 months of age.2
Parents must encourage healthy and hygienic practices in their kids, most importantly to wash hands.
Note: The measles vaccine can have a mild side-effect in kids—getting a fever for 6-12 days after vaccination is common.
Precautions While Taking The Vaccinations
Considering the impact of the vaccination, a small number of people out of a population who receives MMR vaccine may develop certain risks associated with it.
Women who are carrying or planning to conceive in the next 30 days should not consider taking this vaccination. Although there is no substantial evidence of a negative effect, the theoretical risk of fetal infection still considered as the reason for it. 3
Fever is one of the symptoms signaling that the body is fighting an infection. MMR can be delayed until the cause of the fever is known. Once the child recovers, the vaccination can be administered.
Most of the reactions and side-effects are mild. Out of more than 170 million doses of vaccination in the US, only 5 children were reported to have an allergic reaction4.
Caution: Pregnant women must prevent any exposure to rubella or german measles—it can be passed from mother to the fetus, causing serious health issues in the baby. Rubella or german measles is milder than measles.5