Measles

Measles is one of the most contagious childhood viral infections and one of the most severe, with complications ranging from ear infections to pneumonia and encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain that occurs in one out of 2,000 patients). Measles can become an epidemic in schools. Preventive immunization is recommended, if not required by state law. 
Adults can contract measles if they have not been previously exposed or immunized. People who have once had measles develop a natural immunity and cannot contract it again. 

Symptoms :
If your child has measles, he will be very sick. Look for the following symptoms: 
Days 1-3 (Prodrome): mild to high fever, harsh cough, runny nose, red eyes and sneezing; tiny white spots on gums near upper molars or inside cheeks. 
Days 4-8: high fever; characteristic rash, spreading from face to trunk, then to arms and legs. Skin starts to peel in two to three days. Rash starts to fade from the face by the time it reaches the arms and legs. 
Your child may also develop inflammation of the eyes (conjunctivitis), which will make the eyes sensitive to light. 

Causes :
Measles is a virus that is transmitted by direct contact or by droplets from a sneeze or cough. The incubation period -- when the virus multiplies in the body and the child is not contagious -- is eight to 12 days. Your child is most contagious two days before symptoms appear, although he is still contagious for several days after the rash begins. 


Treatment :
If you suspect that your child has measles, you should always consult your child's pediatrician or family practitioner, who will confirm the diagnosis. If measles is likely, your doctor will notify the schools and monitor your child's progress so as to be ready to intercede if complications arise. Infected children should not return to school until a week after the rash appears. Treatment includes rest and fluids. 

Prevention :
Many alternative practitioners feel it is better for an otherwise healthy child to contract measles than to be vaccinated, because fighting the illness strengthens the immune system. However, immunization is usually required by state law, as measles can cause epidemics in schools. The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella vaccine) is now given at 12 or 15 months, with a booster at the age of 4 to 6 or 10 to 12. The homeopathic version of immunization is not an accepted equivalent and will not provide adequate protection, but some homeopaths will prescribe remedies to ease the potential side effects of the MMR. 


Consult Doctor : 
If you think your child has measles; your doctor may have received notice of an epidemic and may be able to confirm your diagnosis over the phone. 
If your child has measles and his cough becomes harsher or more productive, which could indicate viral pneumonia. 
If your child has measles and is having trouble staying fully awake; is extremely lethargic; or is suffering from irritability, disorientation or convulsions within a week of the onset of the rash. This could indicate encephalitis. 
If your child has measles and develops difficulty hearing or pain in the ears, which may indicate an ear infection

 


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