Measles is highly contagious and is a very severe childhood disease rarely contracted by adults. Immunisation is now recommended for all children as this disease can have serious complications This is an infectious viral disease, characterised by small red dots that occur all over the body.
The symptoms of measles develop in two stages.
In the first stage, your child will have cold-like symptoms such as cough, a husky voice, and a runny nose, eyes, and mouth. The child’s eyes may be red and watery (conjunctivitis). High fever and sneezing may also occur.
After the third or fourth day, the second stage commences. The child’s temperature falls and a rash appears. This is characterised by raised spots which are reddish in colour and tend to group together in patches. Spots may also appear in the mouth, where they resemble white grains of sand surrounded by an inflamed area. The temperature usually rises on the same day that the rash appears. After 2-3 days the skin may start to peel.
Like many other viruses, measles is spread by droplets of saliva which are carried through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Bed rest, a soft-foods diet, and increased liquid intake until the symptoms subside.
Treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms and may include the use of a humidifier or cough mixture to help ease the harsh cough. Calamine lotion is often used to relieve the itching.
Over the counter or prescribed eye drops and ointments are used to reduce conjunctivitis.
If you suspect that your child has measles, you should always consult your healthcare professional, who will wish to monitor your child’s progress through the disease. Your child is most contagious 2 days before symptoms appear, although he or she is still contagious for 4 days after the rash begins. A child with measles (or suspected measles) should be kept at home to avoid infecting others and should not return to school for at least a week after the rash appears.
An eyewash made of cooled Eyebright and golden seal tea is soothing to inflamed eyes and may help to ease the eye discomfort
A herbal cough mixture containing Licorice and Horehound may help to relieve coughing; (HINT: to support the immune system at the same time, choose one which also contains Echinacea)
Your healthcare professional can give you more information regarding this.
Exercise extreme caution to prevent the spread of measles to others, by keeping infected children away from others.
If you suspect that you or your child have measles, consult your healthcare professional.