Measles is caused by the Morbillivirus from the paramyxovirus family. The infection mainly affects children but can occur at any age. It is rare in the UK, due to immunisation.
The illness is usually self-limiting and most children recover. However, some children develop serious complications and can occasionally be fatal.1
The following is a summary about the disease. For further details speak to your local pharmacist or GP.
Measles is a very contagious infectious disease. The virus is spread by air-borne droplets. These spread to surfaces and the virus can remain contagious for up to two hours, therefore removing the need for direct person-to-person contact.
The infection has an average incubation period of 10-12 days and infectivity lasts from 4 days before, until 4 days after the rash of measles appears.1
Measles is endemic in many countries. In particular, countries experiencing or recovering from a conflict or natural disaster are particularly prone to outbreaks of measles.
Damage to health infrastructure and health services can interrupt routine immunisation schedules and overcrowding in residential camps greatly increases the risk of infection.2
Early signs of a measles infection include:
After several days, a rash appears, usually on the face and upper neck. The rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet and lasts 5-6 days before fading. Measles is commonly confused with other infections that can lead to a rash.3
Complications are more common and more severe in poorly nourished and/or chronically ill children, including those who are immunosuppressed.
Complication can include:
Uncomplicated measles is usually self-limiting. Treatment is mainly symptomatic and may include:
Patients are advised to remain at home to limit spread of the disease. They should be monitored for signs of complications and consider hospitalisation if these appear.1
Individuals who have never had measles infection or are unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated, may be at risk from measles when visiting countries reporting cases, especially if staying with friends or family and mixing with the local population.
All UK travellers should ensure they are up-to-date with the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination, according to current UK recommendations.4
The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination is given on the NHS as a single injection to babies as part of their routine vaccination schedule. It is given
The vaccine can sometimes be given to babies from 6 months if they may have been exposed to the measles virus. It is not recommended to babies under 6 months.
MMR vaccination is also recommended for:
MMR vaccines contain live, attenuated (modified) strains of measles, mumps and rubella viruses. MMR vaccine does not contain thiomersal or any other preservatives.5
This information is taken from trusted third party websites, NaTHNaC (Travel Health Pro) and EMIS (Patient info) and use of all information has been licenced under the Open Government Licence http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/.
Although the materials are being used/replicated under the provisions of the Open Government Licence this in no way represents endorsement of Traveljab.co.uk by NaTHNaC, Emis, Public Health England, the NHS or the Department of Health and Social Care.