What Is the Danger of Measles and How to Protect Yourself

What Is the Danger of Measles and How to Protect Yourself

Some of the diseases that once led to epidemics due to a lack of vaccination have now been forgotten. Smallpox which claimed the lives of millions of people now exists only in laboratories. In 2019, WHO called the anti-vaccination movement one of the main threats to humanity and previously disappeared diseases are now being recorded all over the world. We tell you why measles is dangerous and how to protect yourself from it:

How Do You Get Measles?

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world. The virus is transmitted by airborne droplets through sneezing, coughing and close contact. The virus remains active in the air and on surfaces up to two hours. It spreads very easily through air ventilation systems, so compliance hygiene rules do not help protect against measles. A sick person can transmit the virus before the rash appears and up to four days after it disappears.

The first symptoms of the disease usually begin a week or two after infection. The body temperature rises, eyes turn red, a cough, and a runny nose appear. All this is very similar to an acute respiratory viral infection. Two or three days after the first symptoms, so-called Koplik spots appear on the mucous membrane in the mouth, they are small whitish-gray spots with a red border. This is the earliest and most indisputable symptom of measles.

Three to five days after the onset of the disease begins the second stage of symptoms. A rash in the form of small pink spots spreads quickly throughout the body. First, rashes appear on the face and then spread below. Than pink spots turn into bright red itchy rashes. During this period, the body temperature can rise to 104 degrees and the cough may get worse.

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The order of appearance and disappearance of the rash is very characteristic of measles. On the sixth or seventh day after infection, the rash spreads to the chest, back, stomach, hips and on the eighth day, it reaches the feet. It begins to disappear in the same sequence head, face, neck and etc. For some time after this, brownish spots remain after the rash.

Why Is It Dangerous?

If everything was limited to a rash and fever, measles would not be so scary but other complications develop in a third of the patients. Most often this occurs in small children and in adults over the age of twenty. The most common measles complications are ear infections which can lead to hearing loss. One out of twenty children develop pneumonia, one out of a thousand develop encephalitis, and one or two out of a thousand children die as a result of measles. You should keep checking your blood pressure as fluctuation of blood pressure may damage your overall health

There is also a distant complication that can occur seven or even ten years after the measles. This is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, a progressive disease of the brain. It causes deterioration in cognitive abilities, convulsions and usually leads to death. For pregnant women, measles is dangerous because it can lead to premature birth or the birth of an underweight child. The highest risk of measles and its complications is in small children who have not been vaccinated.

In the midst of the disease, tachycardia and signs of heart failure may appear, especially if the patient already has a heart problem. Acute interstitial myocarditis can develop if the measles is complicated by interstitial pneumonia. In this case, it is necessary to carry out a full heart test.

How to Treat?

As with most viral infections, specific medications for measles do not exist. All that can be done is maintenance therapy to avoid complications. Good nutrition and plenty of water are very important. To deal with vomiting and diarrhea, a special solution to restore the balance of fluid and electrolytes must be introduced.

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Antibiotics are prescribed for infections of the eyes, ears, and pneumonia. In some studies, it was demonstrated that with a lack of vitamin A, a double administration of this vitamin helps to reduce the frequency of complications associated with eye damage.

How to Protect Yourself?

The only way to protect against measles is with vaccination. World Health Organization estimates that between 2000 and 2016, vaccination prevented 20.4 million measles deaths. Vaccination against measles is administered twice. First at the age of 12 to 15 months and then at 4-6 years.

The website of the American Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recommendations for vaccinating special populations. Anyone traveling abroad over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against measles. Children vaccinated before the age of one year should receive two more doses of the vaccine. Women of reproductive age who do not have confirmed measles immunity should be vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine.

After contacting a person infected with measles, you need to find out whether you are vaccinated against measles and whether heaimmunity is preserved. For this you need to get an analysis to detect antibodies to the measles virus. Vaccination can be done in any case if there are no contraindications. If they exist (pregnancy or severe immunodeficiency), then a special immunoglobulin can be introduced.

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