Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Measles starts with a cough, runny nose, red eyes, and fever. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body.
Cause;;Measles is caused by the measles virus, a single-stranded, negative-sense, enveloped RNA virus of the genus Morbillivirus within the family Paramyxoviridae.
The virus is highly contagious and is spread by coughing and sneezing via close personal contact or direct contact with secretions. It can live for up to two hours in that airspace or nearby surfaces. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of nearby non-immune people will also become infected. Humans are the only natural hosts of the virus, and no other animal reservoirs are known to exist.
Risk factors for measles virus infection include immunodeficiency caused by HIV or AIDS, immunosuppression following receipt of an organ or a stem cell transplant, alkylating agents, or corticosteroid therapy, regardless of immunization status; travel to areas where measles commonly occurs or contact with travellers from such an area; and the loss of passive, inherited antibodies before the age of routine immunization.
Vaccination;;Measles can be prevented with MMR vaccine. The vaccine protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.
The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective.
Children may also get MMRV vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox). This vaccine is only licensed for use in children who are 12 months through 12 years of age.
Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States. Of these, approximately 500,000 cases were reported each year to CDC; of these, 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 developed encephalitis (brain swelling) from measles. Since then, widespread use of measles virus-containing vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era. However, measles is still common in other countries. Unvaccinated people continue to get measles while abroad and bring the disease into the United States and spread it to others.
CDC recommends that children get two doses of MMR vaccine:
- the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and
- the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.
Teens and adults should also be up to date on MMR vaccinations.