When I hear the word measles I think: cough, coryza and conjunctivitis. That’s the way I learned it in medical school. Infected children have a cough, runny nose (coryza) and red eyes (conjunctivitis). They also have distinctive white areas inside the cheeks and a body rash. The measles rash starts at the head and works it way down the body. The rash looks like a lot of other viral rashes: small and red and a little raised. It’s the pattern of the symptoms that makes the diagnosis.
Measles cases are on the rise in the United States. Make sure your child is fully immunized. The first dose of the measles vaccine is given at 12-15 months with a booster shot at 4-6 years of age. Babies traveling outside the US should receive a measles vaccine at 6 months of age. No vaccination can be 100% effective, so it’s important that our community keeps immunization rates high to protect everyone.
In the United States, measles infections have been imported from Europe and other parts of the world. Measles is highly contagious through respiratory secretions, and infected patients quickly make others sick. Encephalitis—inflammation of the brain—occurs in 1 out of every 1000 cases of measles.
With the increase in measles, this is one diagnosis I’m hoping not to make.
The CDC has an information page on measles here.