Measles is a very contagious viral disease that is spread through the air from person to person. Measles can be transmitted when someone with measles coughs or sneezes, and other people breathing the air containing the measles virus can then get measles.
The measles virus can also float in the air for up to 1 hour after someone with measles has coughed or sneezed. People with measles can spread the disease to others from 4 days before the rash starts (before they know they have the disease), through 4 days after the rash begins.
Treatment of measles is essentially supportive care with maintenance of good hydration and replacement of fluids lost through diarrhea or emesis. Intravenous (IV) rehydration may be necessary if dehydration is severe.
CARING FOR SOMEONE WITH MEASLES
There’s no specific treatment for an established measles infection.
However, some measures can be taken to protect vulnerable individuals who have been exposed to the virus: Call the doctor immediately if you think your child has measles, let the receptionist know if you think your child could have measles and he should not wait in the same room as other children.
- Give Vitamin A: Children with low levels of vitamin A are more likely to have a more severe case of measles. Giving vitamin A may lessen the severity of the measles.
- Fever reducers: You or your child may also take over-the-counter medications recommended by the doctor to help relieve the fever that accompanies measles.
- Antibiotics: If a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia or an ear infection, develops while you or your child has measles, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.
- Post-exposure vaccination: Non-immunized people, including infants, may be given the measles vaccination within 72 hours of exposure to the measles virus to provide protection against the disease. If measles still develops, the illness usually has milder symptoms and lasts for a shorter time.
- Immune serum globulin: Pregnant women, infants and people with weakened immune systems who are exposed to the virus may receive an injection of proteins (antibodies) called immune serum globulin. When given within six days of exposure to the virus, these antibodies can prevent measles or make symptoms less severe.