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Measles

 
Would you recognise if your child had measles? Measles is a highly contagious viral disease which kills around 1 million children worldwide each year. It is passed on through droplets on the skin or by breathing in contaminated air. A rash usually occurs, but the most infectious period is 4 days before there are any noticeable changes to the skin, meaning the disease is often passed around before there are any major signs of illness.
Would you recognise if your child had measles?

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease which kills around 1 million children worldwide each year.

It is passed on through droplets on the skin or by breathing in contaminated air.

Measles is particularly dangerous for any children with underlying health problems or issues with their immune system.
 

Measles symptoms

 
  • The most infectious period is 4 days before there are any noticeable changes to the skin, meaning the disease is often passed around before there are any major signs of illness. 
 
  • A cold, runny nose, conjunctivitis, high temperature and cough - usually at the very start of the illness.
 
  • Small white spots (known as koplik spots) inside the mouth. They are usually surrounded with a faint red line but can be difficult to identify.
 
  • A red rash which usually starts on the face and spreads down the body. It might be blotchy in appearance and darker in some places than others.
 
  • Stomach ache, vomiting and nausea.
 

Treating measles

 
  • If you suspect your child has measles you should contact your GP straight away who will perform a saliva test and be able to give a proper diagnosis.
 
  • Depending on the severity of the case, your child may be treated at home or admitted to hospital where they may receive anti-viral drugs and be closely monitored.
 
  • If left untreated, measles could lead to more serious complications like deafness, meningitis, brain damage or in severe cases, death.
 

Preventing measles

   
  • Medical claims in the past reporting that the vaccine is linked to autism and crohn's disease have damaged parents' confidence in the MMR jab. Yet the evidence supporting these claims is still yet to be realised.
 
  • Any child who has not had the MMR vaccine has a 90% chance of catching measles, leaving them at risk of becoming ill. 
 
  • The MMR vaccination is given in two stages - first when your child is around 13 months old and then again as a booster prior to starting school (between the ages of 3 and 5).
 
  • In addition to measles, the MMR vaccine also protects your child from mumps and rubella.
 
  • It's difficult to determine whether your child will experience any side effects after having the MMR jab. As with all types of immunisation, the vaccine involves minuscule doses of the virus into the blood stream so the immune system can get to work to fight it off and develop long term immunity to measles, mumps and rubella.

If you have any concerns at all you should always talk to  your GP. 
 

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Image source: Ministry of Health NZ
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