The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed last Thursday (March 1, 2018) an outbreak of measles in one barangay in Taguig City. Measles or locally known as “Tigdas” is an infectious disease that can cause death among infants as young as 3 months old. Measles is an airborne virus and considered one of the most contagious among infectious diseases. Check out this post for some tips on how to avoid and treat measles.
1. How measles is spread
Measles is spread when an infected person talks, breathes, coughs or sneezes tiny particles containing infectious agents into the air. These are called small particle aerosols. Due to their tiny size, small particle aerosols can travel long distances on air currents and remain suspended in the air for minutes to hours. These small particle aerosols may be breathed in by another person. Measles is also spread by contact with hands, tissues and other articles soiled by nose and throat discharges. The virus is very infectious and droplets in the air may infect people entering a room up to 30 minutes after an infected person has left it.
2. Signs and Symptoms
Early in the infection, symptoms may include:
- sore throat
- runny nose
- sore eyes
- photophobia (discomfort when looking at light).
These symptoms usually worsen over 3 to 5 days, then a blotchy rash (see image) begins on the head and over the next day or two spreads down the entire body. The rash lasts 4 to 7 days. Measles illness usually lasts about 10 days. The cough may be the last symptom to disappear. Measles is often a severe disease, frequently followed by middle ear infection (7% of cases) or bacterial pneumonia (lung infection or inflammation) in 6% of cases. In as many as 1 in every 1000 cases, brain infection occurs (encephalitis), often resulting in death or permanent brain damage. Sometimes brain damage may not appear until many years later. Complications from measles are more common and more severe in the chronically ill and in very young children.
There is no specific antiviral treatment for measles. Complications may require antibiotic treatment. Treatment for the symptoms includes plenty of fluids and paracetamol for the fever. Aspirin should not be given to children under 12 years of age unless specifically recommended by a doctor.
Exclude the person with measles from childcare, preschool, school and work for at least 4 days after the onset of the rash.
Immunisation and immunoglobulin
Measles is best prevented by vaccines. Almost all people who have 2 doses of a measles-containing vaccine will be protected against measles. If an immunized child aged 9 months of age or older or adult has contact with measles, the infection may be prevented by immediate vaccination (within 72 hours of first contact with an infectious person) with a measles-containing vaccine (unless contraindicated). If it is more than 3 days (73 hours) and within 6 days (144 hours) since the first exposure, immunoglobulin (a solution containing human antibodies that is made from human blood products) may prevent infection.
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