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Measles

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Measles is one of the most contagious viral diseases. It is caused by paramyxovirus and is the most unpleasant and one of the most dangerous children's diseases.

What causes Measles?
Measles is caused by an infection with the rubeola virus. The virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets which come out of your mouth and nose when someone who has measles coughs or sneezes.

How is it spread?
You can catch measles by breathing in these droplets or if the droplets have settled on a surface and you touch it and then place your hands near your face. However, the measles virus can only survive on a surface for a few hours. Once inside your body, it multiplies in the back of your throat and lungs before it spreads around your body including on your skins and the respiratory system. When you get measles you are infected for two to four days before the rash appears and for about five days after it appears.

Symptoms
After around 14 days of contracting the disease, the following symptoms begin to show:
• A fever at about 39c
• Coughing
• Sore throat – the lymph nodes may swell.
• Reddish eyes
• Sensitivity to light
• Greyish spots about the size of grains of sand may appear in the mucous membrane of the mouth just around the molar teeth. They can be seen before the rash appears.
• After 3-4days the temperature might fall but it can go high again when the rash appears.
• The rash usually beings around the ears and spreads to the body and the legs within two days
• At first the spots are very small – a couple of millimetres – but they double in size quickly and begin to join together.
• The spots are a clear red colour.
• The temperature, which may run as high as 40ºC, may stay that high for a couple of days. Then it disappears together with the rash, which may leave some brown spots. Children who have had measles cannot return to school before they recover and the temperature is gone. In the UK all children between the age of 12 and 15 months are offered the MMR vaccination, which will protect them from measles, mumps and rubella.

How can it be prevented?
Measles can be prevented by immunization. About 95 percent of vaccinated people are protected with one dose, and practically everyone is protected with two doses.
All children should be vaccinated to protect themselves and others from measles. The measles vaccine is part of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine series given to children beginning at 12 months of age.

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