It is caused by a virus called Measles virus.
Measles is a common childhood infection prior to the introduction of measles vaccine. Affected persons will present initially with fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and white spots inside the mouth. This is followed 3 to 7 days later by a red blotchy skin rash, which usually spreads from face to the rest of the body. The rash usually lasts 4 - 7 days, but can persist for up to 3 weeks leaving with brownish staining and sometimes fine skin peeling. In severe cases, lung, gut and brain can get involved and lead to serious consequences or even death.
Mode of transmission
This can be transmitted airborne by droplet spread or by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected persons, and less commonly, by articles soiled with nose and throat secretions. Measles is one of the most highly communicable infectious diseases. The patient can pass the disease to other persons from 4 days before to 4 days after appearance of the rash.
It usually ranges from 7-18 days, but can be up to 21 days.
Affected persons should avoid contact with non-immune persons, especially those with weakened immunity, pregnant women and infants. Although there is no specific treatment, drugs may be prescribed to reduce the symptoms and antibiotics may be used to treat bacterial complications.
- Maintain good personal and environmental hygiene.
- Maintain good indoor ventilation.
- Keep hands clean and wash hands properly.
- Wash hands when they are dirtied by respiratory secretions e.g. after sneezing.
- Cover nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing and dispose of nasal and mouth discharge properly.
- Cleanse used toys and furniture properly.
- Vaccination against measles is the most effective preventive measure. Under the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme, children are given measles-containing vaccines at 1 year old and in Primary 1. (Please refer to the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme)
- Children with measles should stay at home; keep out of schools / Kindergartens / Kindergartens-cum-Child Care Centres / Child Care Centres till 4 days from the appearance of rash to prevent spread of the infection to non-immune persons in school.
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