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.