Measles is caused by a virus called Measles virus. 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 nasal or 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.
Measles was 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.