Home Diseases & Conditions Measles Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Measles Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Measles, also called rubeola, is a highly infectious disease that commonly affects children worldwide. The number of measles cases worldwide has dropped drastically with the introduction of the measles vaccine, however, there are still about 200,000 deaths yearly with the majority coming from Africa and Southeast Asia.



It is caused by a virus that multiplies in the upper airway (nose and throat) of infected individuals and is transmitted by droplet infection. Infected individuals are contagious 4 days before and until 2 days after the onset of the rash.


  • Mild to moderate fever
  • Dry cough
  • Running nose
  • Malaise (feeling of discomfort and illness)
  • Body pains
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Koplik spots: These occur one to two days before the onset of rash and are unique to measles. They are bluish discolorations that are found in the mouth just opposite the second molar tooth.

Koplik Spots

  • Rash: These start from the forehead before involving the rest of the body. The rash eventually fades in about a week starting from the face, leaving a brownish discoloration.


These tend to occur in malnourished and immunocompromised children. They include:

  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Bacterial ear infection
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Hepatitis
  • Myocarditis
  • Acute measles encephalitis
  • Death


The immunization of children with the measles vaccine is highly recommended in preventing the spread of the disease.

A second attack is rare as a previous attack confers a live long immunity against the disease.


The treatment of measles is supportive. It involves the treatment of the symptoms like the use of antipyretics for the fever. Antibiotics are only indicated if there is a superimposed bacterial infection.



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