Measles, also known as rubeola, is one of the most contagious diseases caused by the measles virus. It mostly affects children, but it is not limited to that age bracket and can affect all age groups. Vaccine against measles was introduced in 1963, after which the worldwide incidence has dramatically decreased. However, it is still endemic in certain developing countries and causes many preventable deaths per year.
Measles is caused by the measles virus, which belongs to the family of viruses called Paramyxoviridae. The natural host for the measles virus in humans. It spreads through:
There are no types of the disease, but it is often confused with German measles, also called Rubella. Measles or rubeola is also called standard measles, hard measles, or red measles.
Following are the risk factors for the spread of measles:
The worldwide incidence of measles has decreased drastically after the introduction of the vaccine in 1963, for which two doses are administered in childhood. According to WHO, the developing countries have approximately 30 million cases yearly, 1 million deaths, and about 150,000 cases of blindness.Although it is a disease of childhood, unvaccinated and immunocompromised individuals of any age can be affected. It affects males and females equally and has no association with race; people of all races are equally susceptible.
The incubation period for measles is around 7 to 14 days. The period of infectivity starts 1 to 2 days before the onset of symptoms. Signs and symptoms of measles include:
Although diagnosis can be established by careful clinical examination, certain laboratory tests can also prove useful. These include:
Complications of measles usually develop due to immunosuppression and include the following:
Differential diagnosis includes other viral diseases with a similar rash and some other illnesses such as:1. Conjunctivitis (pink eye)2. Meningitis3. Kawasaki disease4. Rubella5. Scarlet fever6. Toxic shock syndrome7. Drug hypersensitivity reactions
Measles is rarely fatal, and the infection has a good prognosis. One-time infection confers lifelong immunity against the disease, but care should be taken to avoid complications that can be life-threatening.In the United States, the death rate due to measles is only 0.1-0.2 percent. Although death is rarely a consequence of infection, complications can develop. Measles is the most common cause of childhood blindness.
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on May 25, 2023.
For Healthcare Professionals - Diagnosing and Treating Measles | CDC