Measles

""Measles is one of the most highly contagious diseases characterized by a red, blotchy rash. The measles virus spreads through close personal contact with an infected person and through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can be spread by droplets that can stay in the air for several hours. Infection can result in serious illness or death.

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Symptoms

Symptoms begin to appear 7-18 days after being exposed to the virus in people who are susceptible to measles. Initial symptoms may include fever, runny nose, cough, drowsiness, irritability and red eyes. Small white spots may also develop on the inside of the mouth or throat. The characteristic red blotchy rash can appear three to seven days after the initial symptoms (on average 14 days after exposure). The rash typically begins on the face and progresses down the body.

Measles infection can lead to complications, including ear infections, pneumonia (lung infection) and encephalitis (brain inflammation) that can lead to seizures, brain damage or death. Measles occurring during pregnancy has been associated with spontaneous abortion, premature delivery and babies born with low birth weight.

Causes

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by the measles virus. It spreads through close personal contact with an infected person’s mucous or saliva and through the air from coughing and sneezing. Although not common, the measles virus may also spread through contact with objects that were recently exposed to an infected person’s mucous or saliva from coughing and sneezing. The virus can be spread by droplets that can stay in the air for several hours.

An infected person is contagious and able to spread the virus from four days before the rash appears to four days after.

Treatment

There is no cure for measles. Current treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms.

Most people recover fully from measles within 2 to 3 weeks. Complications are more common in infants and adults and those with weakened immune systems.

Prevention

Measles can be prevented through immunization. Measles vaccine is offered free-of-charge as part of Manitoba’s Recommended Routine Immunization Schedule and to those who meet Manitoba’s eligibility criteria. Other precautions can be taken, including practicing good hand hygiene, covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze, and avoiding sharing personal items such as water bottles, lip gloss and cigarettes.


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