Measles is a dangerous and highly contagious viral respiratory infection. An individual who has contracted measles will not have any symptoms until between seven and fourteen days after the first contact with the measles virus. Individuals infected with measles will first experience a runny nose, red eyes, hacking cough, and high fever. Between three and five days after symptoms begin, a rash on the skin begins to manifest, typically starting as flat, blotchy red spots on the forehead. The rash then spreads to the face, and then down the torso, arms, and legs. As long as measles symptoms are present in infected individuals, they are contagious. Because measles is caused by a virus, there is no way to cure it. The virus has to run its course, and treatment focuses on supportive measures. Thankfully, there are numerous ways measles can be prevented.
An individual can prevent becoming infected with measles by getting vaccinated. There are two vaccines that can prevent measles. The MMR vaccine prevents an individual from contracting mumps, rubella, and measles. The MMRV vaccine prevents an individual from contracting chickenpox, mumps, rubella, and measles. It is important for all eligible individuals to get vaccinated, as it prevents a community outbreak of the measles. When a group of individuals chooses not to get vaccinated, infants and individuals who are ineligible to receive the measles vaccine are far more likely to contract the virus. Anyone undergoing cancer treatment, treatment with immunosuppressants, or has allergies to the ingredients of the vaccine are ineligible to receive it. Children under twelve months old are also not eligible. Any individual who is traveling internationally should get vaccinated because of the measles prevalence in Africa, South and Central America, some parts of Europe, and Asia. Getting vaccinated is the only effective way to effectively prevent measles.
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Isolate From Others
One of the most important parts of measles treatment is isolation from others. As a general rule, individuals infected with measles should be isolated from others for at least four days following the development of the measles rash. Healthcare facilities usually place a highly contagious measles patient in an airborne infection isolation room (AIIR) to protect others in the facility. This includes those in nursing homes, hospitals, and long-term care facilities that have AIIR capability. When the use of an AIIR is not possible, the patient is placed in their own isolated room and is required to wear a mask. Any medical personnel, even if they are vaccinated, should wear personal protective equipment. Any medical equipment used on or was otherwise in contact with the measles patient should be isolated and sanitized. Individuals who have measles that do not require hospitalization are advised to self-quarantine in their home. A measles patient should not leave their home until they are no longer experiencing symptoms.
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Take Fever Medication
Measles patients can take fever medication to help treat any symptoms they may be experiencing as a result of a high fever. While any body temperature above 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is considered elevated, a temperature exceeding 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a significant fever. An affected individual's immune system raises their body temperature in an effort to kill off the measles virus. Measles patients may experience symptoms such as headaches, rapid heart rate, lightheadedness, sore eyes, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, sweating, chills, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and general weakness as a result of their high fever.
Any temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit is dangerous and requires the use of fever-reducing medication to prevent serious complications such as febrile seizures, severe dehydration, hallucinations, and delirium. Infants, children, the elderly, those affected by an autoimmune disease, or those who have cancer are the most vulnerable to these dangerous complications of a high fever caused by the measles.
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A physician may want to try antibiotics as part of the treatment of measles, though antibiotics do not have the capability to kill viruses the same way they can kill bacteria. This is because the mechanisms each of them use to replicate and survive in the human body are different. However, the measles makes an affected individual extremely susceptible to developing dangerous bacterial infections such as pneumonia and otitis media. This susceptibility occurs because the patient's immune system is overwhelmed with fighting off the measles virus. Pneumonia is a bacterial infection characterized by fluid buildup in the alveoli of the lungs. Most deaths that occur due to the measles are caused by a secondary pneumonia infection. Ear infections secondary to measles are also fairly common in individuals who are infected. The administration of antibiotics either orally, intravenously, or with an injection can help with the prevention of potentially deadly complications. Not only can these infections be deadly, but they also cause the patient to experience painful and harsh symptoms that prolong their recovery time.
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Rest And Hydrate
A measles patient will be advised to get plenty of rest and hydrate as part of their treatment regimen. Because of the harsh flu-like symptoms that occur in an individual infected with measles, it may be difficult for them to eat and drink fluids regularly. A high fever may cause excessive nausea and vomiting that can also contribute to the decreased intake of food and fluids. The decreased intake of fluids causes an affected individual to become dehydrated. When an individual becomes severely dehydrated, they can experience serious complications, including seizures, persistent diarrhea, and low blood volume shock. Rest is also an important part of treatment for measles because physical activity can lower the effectiveness of a patient's immune system. Physical activity can also cause the patient to lose fluids quicker. When someone becomes too dehydrated, they will need treatment in a medical facility. This treatment includes the use of an intravenous infusion of fluids to help with rehydration.