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Measles is an infectious childhood disease caused by the measles virus. Measles in children and adults has similar symptoms. In the course of the disease, a characteristic rash (Koplik spots), fever and cough, runny nose or photophobia appear. Measles in adults can be serious and end in hospitalization. To avoid getting measles, the MMR vaccine is given.

Measles - an infectious disease

Odra, , has been forgotten for a long time thanks to vaccinations. Today, however, there are more and more cases ofmeasles , the disease is fully returning. You should know thatmeasles is very contagious- if a child has not been vaccinated, it is almost certain that he will get it, because one patient can infect 15 to 20 other people (when a person with flu can only be infected by one to three people.)

According to the World He alth Organization (WHO)measlesis one of the leading causes of death among children worldwide. Vaccination againstmeaslesresulted in a significant decrease in the number of deaths - by 77% between 1999 and 2008.¹ In Europe, we are seeing an alarming increase inmeasles, including deaths from complications of the disease. The vast majority of sick people were not vaccinated.

The increase inmeaslesis mainly related to the growing number of parents refusing to vaccinate their children despite compelling scientific evidence confirming the safety and effectiveness of vaccination againstmeasles . In 2022, the number of people suffering frommeaslesin Europe quadrupled compared to 2016, with 39 deaths. In Poland, from 60 to 130 cases occur each year .²

Odrain Poland. In 2022, there was an over 5-fold increase in the incidence (355 cases) compared to 2022 (63 cases). This increase was related to the increase in the number of measles cases in the entire WHO European region, including countries directly bordering Poland, as well as to many years of activity in anti-vaccination movements leading to a decline in confidence in immunization.

From the beginning of 2022 (NIPH-PZH data until September 30, 2019), 1,368 cases ofmeasleswere reported, at the same time a year ago - 126 cases. Within8 cases were reported in the last two weeks of September. Before the introduction of compulsory vaccinations againstmeaslesin 1975 with one dose, and since 1991 with two doses, from 70,000 to 130,000 people contracted the disease annually, mainly children, and in epidemic years from 135 to 200 thousand. It can be said that there is nothing to worry about, as more than 1,000 cases in the first five months of 2022 are nothing compared to the data from years ago.

Epidemicsmeasleshas not been announced in Poland, but we are undoubtedly dealing with at least a few epidemiological outbreaks - says Dr. of medical sciences Tomasz Dzieiątkowski, virologist from the Medical University of Warsaw - It is enough to compare the cases of illnesses last year and to understand that the situation is really serious and should not be ignored.

Measles: causes

The disease is caused by themeaslesvirus, which is transmitted by airborne droplets and direct contact with nasopharyngeal secretions or the urine of a sick person. It is worth knowing that the airborne transmission of infection via aerosol of airway secretion droplets has been documented up to 2 hours after the person shedding the virus left the room .³

It is also possible to spread the infection through the hands after touching objects or surfaces contaminated with secretions from the respiratory tract and then spread the virus to the mucous membranes of the nose and throat.measlesis so infectious that more than 90% of susceptible people become sick when exposed to the virus .³

Measles in children

The most commonmeaslesaffects infants from 6 to 12 months of age (before the first vaccination), and children up to 15 years of age who have not received booster doses of the vaccine.Measlesis the most dangerous for children under 5 and people with impaired immune systems. Every fourth ill person requires hospitalization. One in 1,000 patients dies in the course of the disease.

Measles: symptoms

Symptoms of measlesappear 10-12 days after infection:

  • fever - with the development of the disease, the body temperature rises to 39-41 ° C.
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  • sore throat
  • cough - usually tiring and dry
  • redness of the eyes and photophobia
  • the face of a sick child looks like after a long crying
  • white eruptions surrounded by a red line (Koplik's spots) appear in the mouth, followed by a red rash first on the face and head, then the rest of the body.

Odrais the mostcontagious five days before the rash appears and for four days after it appears. 2-4 days before the appearance of the characteristic rash, there is fever, malaise, conjunctivitis, runny nose, cough.

Measles: Characteristic rash

The rash formeaslesis very distinctive: initially coarse, confluent into vivid red patches with small irregularly shaped lumps. The rash first appears behind the ears, then on the face and neck, and on the body, arms, and legs. The oral mucosa is red. After the appearance of the rash (after about 4-5 days), the fever decreases and the child, although still has a runny nose and cough, slowly recovers.

After a few days, the rash turns brown, then begins to peel off. Some children, especially those with less immunity, may have a hard timemeasles(even with hemorrhagic rash, convulsions).

Measles - symptoms. Check how to recognize this dangerous disease

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Measles in adults - symptoms

Odrain adults has similar, the above-mentioned symptoms similar to in children, but its course is, the older the patient, the heavier and more dangerous, especially for people with cardiovascular diseases. Adults, especially those with less immunity, may have a hard timemeasles(even with hemorrhagic rash, convulsions).

pregnant measles

Measlesis especially dangerous also during pregnancy. Infection with this virus can increase the risk of complications such as:

  • premature birth
  • miscarriage
  • low birth weight of the child

Measles diagnosis

Measlescan only be confirmed by a doctor - he or she also decides whether a person suffering from measles can be treated at home or whether hospital treatment is necessary (the decision depends, among other things, on the severity of symptoms of measles). Sometimesmeasleshas a mild course and is difficult to confirm or rule out unequivocally. Then the doctor may order, among others serological tests. Usually, it is also necessary to differentiate measles from other diseases that may cause similar symptoms, including rubella, infectious erythema or scarlet fever, and sometimes it is also necessary to exclude an allergic reaction.

Measles: treatment

Treatmentmeaslesis only symptomatic. There are no antiviral drugs that work for measles. We can kill a fever with antipyretic drugs, and antitussive drugs should also be used. The patient should stay in bed (also for a few days after the fever has subsided) in a darkened room, which willphotophobia.

If the eyes are very red, they can be rinsed with a saline solution. The patient's room should be aired frequently.

Measles: possible complications

Complicationsmeaslesare very serious, they can even lead to the death of a child.

A child not vaccinated against measles is at risk of:

  • pneumonia caused by bacterial superinfection
  • otitis media
  • myocarditis
  • encephalitis (around 1 in 1,000 cases)
  • subacute sclerosing encephalitis

Subacute sclerosing encephalitis (LESS - Latinleukoencephalitis subacuta scleroticans ), which develops 7-10 years after the disease, is particularly dangerousmeasles, in approx. 0.01% of patients.

About 30 percentmeaslesis complicated, especially among children under 5 and adults over 20.

Characteristic of this complication aftermeaslesis an extremely high concentration of antibodies to the virus, as well as severe neurological symptoms in the form of speech disorders, mental retardation and progressive paresis, which quickly lead to to the post-induced state.

In this case, medicine is powerless and the prognosis is always bad. Subacute sclerosing encephalitis causes death in a year or two, sometimes is slow and can survive for up to 10 years; spontaneous improvement is possible only in about 10% of patients.

Measles: vaccination

Vaccine againstMeaslescomes in a combined form as a vaccine againstmeasles , mumps and rubella (MMR) ormeasles , mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV vaccine).

The vaccine contains live, weakened viruses (after vaccination they do not spread to other people around the child).

  • MMR vaccine - measles, mumps, rubella vaccine

The virusmeaslesonly stops spreading in the population when at least 95% of people are vaccinated.

Vaccination againstmeaslesis one of the compulsory (free) vaccinations given in Poland at 13-14 months of age and 10 years of age. Vaccination effectiveness after administration of 2 doses of the vaccine is 98%, it is theoretically maintained for the rest of life, but after consulting a doctor, vaccination should be repeated every 10 years.

After administration of the vaccine, local reactions may occur, such as pain at the injection site, redness, swelling. Overall vaccination reactions depend onage of the person to be vaccinated. Importantly, research clearly excludesmeaslesvaccine from being associated with autism.

Themeasles virusis attenuated in the vaccine, which is why it is called a "live" vaccine. In the vaccine, the attenuated virus is less virulent, and the wild-type virus, which we can get infected from the sick person, even a few days before the first symptoms appear, is contagious at the level of 98% - says Dr. Dzie citkowski.

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