Measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral infectious disease, which is frequently contracted during childhood.

Overview

Measles is a highly contagious viral infectious disease, which is frequently contracted during childhood. Although infections often progress without any further problems, measles is a serious disease that can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications. The initial stage with fever, sensitivity to light and white spots in the mouth is followed by a skin rash and a feeling of being very unwell. Vaccination is strongly recommended.

Symptoms

  • From infection to outbreak: 8-10 days (incubation period)
Initial phase (prodromal phase) is already contagious
Rash phase, still contagious
  • Feeling of being very unwell (listless, tired)
  • High fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Skin rash
    • Small spots, usually dark red
    • Spots can appear in clusters
    • Starts behind the ears, spreads to the rest of the body
    • Starts fading after 4 to 5 days
  • Sometimes, itching
  • Sometimes, diarrhoea

Complications

Particularly at risk: infants and adults

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Measles virus (rubeola, highly contagious)
    • Droplet infection (talking, sneezing, coughing)
  • Not vaccinated against measles
  • Usually lifelong immunity after an infection

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Physical examination
  • Blood test (to identify infection), if necessary
  • Measurement of electrical activity in the brain, if necessary
Possible therapies
  • Treatment of symptoms
    • Fever-reducing painkillers (paracetamol, ibuprofen)
    • Intake of fluid
    • Bed rest, dark rooms
    • Nasal spray, eye drops
    • Cough suppressants and anti-itching medication, if necessary
    • For bacterial secondary infection: antibiotics
  • Persons with a weakened immune system: passive immunisation (administration of immune globulins)

What can I do myself?

  • Preventive: measles vaccination (recommended by WHO, recommended by FOPH)
  • Children with measles
    • Bed rest, dark rooms
    • Fever-reducing and anti-itching medication
    • Drink plenty of fluids
    • Calf wraps (depending on age), cold compresses on the groin
    • Unvaccinated siblings are probably also infected
  • Persons who did not have a vaccination or never had measles: keep their distance

When to see a doctor?

Further information

Federal Office of Public Health, FOPH (Bundesamt für Gesundheit, BAG)
Information about measles: www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en
Swiss vaccination schedule: www.bag.admin.ch/bag

Synonyms

measles, rubeola, morbilli

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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