Measles is an infection caused by a mutation of the morbillivirus. In developing countries where not all children are vaccinated against measles, the infection has a high mortality rate, especially among children and babies who suffer from malnutrition.
It is a highly contagious disease – 90% of people who are not vaccinated and who come in contact with someone who has measles will get sick themselves. The incubation period can last between one and three weeks. Symptoms include fever, coughing, runny nose and conjunctivitis. One of the defining symptoms is the small dots on the inner part of the mouth, which look like salt granules. 3 – 4 days after a fever, the child will develop a rash, which spreads from the head and the neck to the rest of the body.
Common complications include ear infections, diarrhea and pneumonia. Meningitis is a rare complication that affects 1 in every 1,000 cases, and is extremely dangerous. Other complications can affect the child years after the infection, such as SSPE or encephalitis. Both of these complications can cause irreparable damage to the body.
In 1963 Israel introduced a standard inoculation for children – MMR (which includes vaccines against mumps and rubella as well). The first vaccine is administered at the age of one year and the second one in first grade. This vaccine is highly successful in preventing the infection. If given within three days of exposure to the disease, it can prevent it. In some cases, where the person is already exposed to the virus, doctors will administer an immunoglobin vaccine.
It is important to get your child vaccinated against this disease.