What is Measles?

Measles is also known as rubeola or red measles. It is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus which causes rashes all over the body.

Measles could be spread through infected mucus and saliva. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), 139300 deaths were recognized in 2010 as a result of measles. Out of 13,9300 global deaths, a majority of them were children below 5 years of age. Measles generally affects children who are not vaccinated.


Causes of Measles

As discussed earlier, measles is caused by a virus. It is a contagious disease that spreads through mucus and saliva. When the measles infected person sneezes or coughs, the virus is released into the air. Measles virus could travel through the air. So anyone in that proximity might be infected by that virus.

Also Read: Difference between Measles and Rubella

Symptoms of Measles

Symptoms generally appear within 14 days of exposure to the virus. General symptoms of measles are body rash but before that, there are a few more symptoms which could help in detecting measles.

Symptoms of Measles

The symptoms of measles include:

  • Fever
  • Hacking cough
  • Red eyes
  • Muscle pains
  • Running nose
  • Sore throat
  • Sores inside the mouth

Body rash appears within 4 – 5 days after the symptoms start. It might be accompanied by a high fever. These are the symptoms of measles.


Measles, if not treated properly can lead to chronic complications like pneumonia, encephalitis etc. The other complications may include:

  • Bronchitis
  • Reduction in blood platelets
  • Severe diarrhoea
  • Sometimes even blindness


Doctor confirms measles by examining a skin rash and other symptoms or characteristics of the disease. If it is not possible to confirm by examining visible symptoms, the doctor might advise for a blood test.

Treatment of Measles

There is no specific treatment for measles. The virus and symptoms generally disappear within two to three weeks but the doctor might recommend the following treatments:

  • Medications that help to improve the immune system
  • Medications to reduce a cough and sore throat
  • Acetaminophen to reduce muscle pains and fever
  • Foods that are rich in vitamin A

In the case of children, It is advised that they should be closely monitored by a doctor. Children should be placed in isolation until they are fully recovered.

Prevention of Measles

As there is no specific treatment, it is advised to follow all necessary precautions which help to prevent measles. Children should be vaccinated within 12 months of their birth and the second dose should be between the ages of 4 and 6. MMR is a vaccine that prevents three diseases like mumps, measles, and rubella. Treating the disease in early stages is also very important, especially for children.

Also Read: Viral Diseases

To know more about measles, its causes, treatment, prevention, symptoms and control, keep visiting BYJU’S website or download BYJU’S app for further reference.

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