What you should know about Measles

In January this year, the Department of Health (DOH) alerted the public with several announcements of measles outbreak in several districts and provinces of the country. Thus, DOH launched the “Goodbye Tigdas,” an expanded catch-up measles vaccination campaign in the National Capital Region (NCR), CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) and in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga in Central Luzon from January 23 to February 3, 2014.

The DOH continues to warn the public about the spread of the disease this summer as hot weather tends to weaken the immune system making it vulnerable to virus infection.

Measles, commonly known as tigdas, is known to be potentially deadly and highly infectious. This viral infection is transmitted through respiration or contact with fluids from an infected person’s mouth and nose. Though the virus may also infect adults, children 10 years old and below are the most susceptible.

Symptoms of Infection

The period of incubation, or the time elapsed between infection entering the body and the appearance of symptoms, varies from seven to 14 days. The symptoms begin with mild to moderate fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat. After two to three days, Koplik’s spots or tiny white spots with bluish-white centers begin to appear inside the mouth. Then, red or reddish-brown rash starts appear on a person’s face, down the neck, arms, legs and feet.  The fever will now rise up to 40 degrees Celsius.

Complications

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 percent of reported measles cases have one or more complications and is common among children younger than five years of age and adults 20 years of age and older. Complication of measles include: ear infection, diarrhea, bronchitis or laryngitis, pneumonia, encephalitis, pregnancy problems and thrombocytopenia or low platelet count.

Treatment

There is no specific drug for Measles virus. Treatment recommended by experts usually aims only to relieve the symptoms until the immune system fights off the virus. Helpful measures are as follows:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated and reduce discomfort caused by coughing.
  2. Take medicines to ease fever and aches and pains. Do not take antibiotics as it doesn’t kill the virus.
  3. See a doctor when the symptoms get worse or any complication is suspected.

Prevention

Vaccines are available and highly effective and safe. Infants aged six months could already have the first dose of the vaccine and should be followed by a booster dose at 12 to 15 months of age.  For children, adolescents and adults with incomplete or no vaccination, the Department of Health is providing the trivalent measles vaccine or the MMR vaccine against mumps, measles, and rubella. For more information about the DOH immunization programs, contact your local health centers.

 

References:

WHO Fact Sheet on Measles www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/
DOH Measles Update www.doh.gov.ph