Measles can be defined as an eruptive disease with a high degree of contagiousness, with respiratory transmission, found in most cases in children aged 6 months to 3 years.
The pathogen that causes measles is part of the class Paramyxoviridae.
A person with measles is contagious 2-3 days before the rash and another 4 days thereafter, because of this being quite difficult to achieve an efficient prophylaxis of the disease, which is most often quarantined.
The measles virus is transmitted from a sick person to a healthy one through respiratory secretions, aerosols and Pfluge drops (microscopic particles of pulmonary secretions).
After 24-48 hours the virus spreads down to the lower respiratory tract (lung) and from here it can pass through the pulmonary alveoli into the blood (viremia).
Symptoms of measles
Although there is a possibility that the virus does not produce symptoms or cause minimal manifestations of the disease, most cases of measles are symptomatic.
Among the most common symptoms in measles (measles), we mention:
• respiratory prodrome, characterized by poor general condition, cough, tear and nasal hypersecretion, coriander. Most of the time, this uncharacteristic syndrome is confused with the flu, especially because it is accompanied by high fever (temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius).
• Koplik stains, are pathognomonic (characteristic of the disease), are specifically located in the buccal mucosa (more commonly in the mucosa adjacent to molar II). These appear as white-blue spots 1-2 mm in size on a bright red background, and are often overlooked.
• maculo-papular rash (reddish, slightly highlighted skin lesions), non-itchy (without itching), which starts at the level of the head (hair insertion line), the face and then extends to the trunk and limbs. Often we can find skin lesions even in the soles or palms. The fever can persist throughout the eruptive period (about 4-5 days) and disappears most often with it.
• diarrhea, vomiting and anorexia (decreased appetite) are quite common in younger children (infants)
• lymphadenopathy (inflammation of the lymph nodes) can also be found in measles, but it is not as heavy as in rubella
• febrile seizures, are quite common in young children, and must be particularly common for seizures secondary to measles encephalitis.
What complications can occur?
• Otitis media is a common complication in the young child
• encephalitis, is a serious complication of measles, especially in immunocompromised children, with a rather high mortality. Some of the children who develop encephalitis remain with the sequelae for the rest of their lives (epilepsy).
Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis is a prolonged, chronic form of measles encephalitis, occurs more often among children who have measles before the age of 2 years. The disease can occur within a free interval of several years (up to 20 years) after vaccination against measles.
Treatment in case of measles
Mothers who suspect the appearance of measles in the child should go to the family doctor, pediatrician or infection specialist for clinical evaluation and treatment.
Symptoms that require emergency medical attention are: persistent fever (which does not resolve with rash), febrile seizures or some complications of the disease (pneumonia, bronchitis, croup, encephalitis, etc.).
There is no specific treatment for measles, the most commonly used symptomatic treatment (of the symptoms). Fever and febrile seizures are treated with acetaminophen (paracetamol). Paracetamol suppositories are recommended for young children (infants), being the most effective route of administration especially for febrile seizures.
Proper hydration of the child, humidification of the air from the room where he sleeps are also important.
Aspirin should not be given to children because it can trigger Reye syndrome, a rare but serious condition that affects the central nervous system, liver and kidneys. Among the most common symptoms are: vomiting, convulsions (diffuse brain injury and cerebral edema), hypoglycemia (decreased blood sugar levels). There is no specific treatment for the disease, the mortality rate being high, over 50%.
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