By BETSY FAETH
Measles is a common disease in many countries throughout the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it can be spread by people from other countries who visit the United States and are ill with the measles. The same is true of those U.S. citizens who have not been immunized against measles to contract the disease and bring it back to their families and community. People of all ages who have not been vaccinated against measles are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease.
Measles is an infectious respiratory disease caused by the measles virus which is highly contagious and spreads very easily. The measles virus “lives” in the nose and throat of infected people and is spread by coughing or sneezing.
Infected people are usually contagious from about four days before their rash starts to four days afterward. Thus, an infected person can spread the disease before knowing he or she is infected.
Symptoms begin with fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite, and red watery eyes for about four days, followed by a rash. The rash usually lasts five to six days and begins at the hairline, moves to the face and upper neck, and proceeds down the body.
Measles is diagnosed by a combination of the patient’s symptoms and by laboratory tests.
There is no specific treatment for measles. As with a bad case of the flu, people with measles need bed rest, fluids, and control of fever. One cannot get the measles more than once.
The best protection against measles for individuals and the community is through routine immunization with the MMR vaccine. This is a combined vaccine that protects against Measles, Mumps and Rubella.
Please talk to your health care provider about any additional questions or concerns you may have.
Betsy Faeth is the Director of Health, Safety and Infection Prevention at ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital.
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