How to Know if You are Suffering From the Measles

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Measles is an infection caused by the measles virus, a paramyxoviridae from genus Morbillivirus. In most of the advanced countries measles infection is usually a self-limiting illness. But morbidity and mortality are higher in developing nations. This is due to poor nutritional status, vitamin A deficiency and poor medical care. Some groups of patients are equally at increased risk for severe measles even in the developed countries. These include pregnant women, immuno-compromised hosts such as AIDS, and extremes of age. Follow the steps below to know if you have developed measles.

  • Know if you have had contact with a person with a measles infection. The incubation period is generally 10-14 days.

  • Identify the "prodrome." The prodrome usually lasts for 2 to 3 days. This state involves fever, malaise, anorexia, conjunctivitis, coryza and cough. May also include lacrimation (tearing), photophobia, respiratory symptoms, or Koplik's spots (these are 1 to 3 mm whitish, grayish or bluish elevations seen inside the cheek opposite to the molar teeth).

  • Look for the measles rash. The characteristic rash begins on the face and spreads towards the neck, upper trunk, lower trunk and extremities. The palms and soles are not involved.

  • Notice clinical improvement within 48 hours of the appearance of the rash. It begins to fade and change to a brown color, then flakes.

  • Order laboratory tests. Your health-care provider will subject you to the following tests: blood counts; serological tests (anti-measles IgM, anti-measles IgG; culture of the virus from blood cells, respiratory secretions, conjunctival swabs, or urine; chest radiography; biopsy samples of lymph nodes; and cytologic examination of nasal secretions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Immunity after measles infection is thought to be lifelong.
  • If you continue to have fever beyond the third day of rash see your doctor as soon as possible because this could suggests a measles-associated complication.

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