In fact, as most people know, the endemic spread of measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.
What does that mean?
For one thing, it means that many people in the United States have never actually seen anyone with measles.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Measles?
As we are seeing more and more measles cases each year, it makes it important for everyone to learn how to recognize what measles looks like. Measles is so contagious, that missing just one case can lead to a lot of other people getting exposed unnecessarily and can keep an outbreak going.
So what does measles look like?
After being exposed, kids with measles will develop:
- a high fever
- cough and/or runny nose
- red, watery eyes with photophobia (dislike of bright light)
- sore throat
- decreased appetite
That sounds like many other viral infections that kids get though, which is why measles is so hard to diagnose, at least at the beginning stages of the illness, when kids only have the first signs of measles – the fever, cough, runny nose, and conjunctivitis.
Koplik spots, small gray-white spots in your mouth, are another clue that a child might have measles. They can develop on the second or third day of fever.
Next, after having the high fever for 3 to 5 days, kids develop a worsening fever and the classic measles rash. It is important to note that you are contagious well before you get the rash though, up to about four days before the rash develops, providing plenty of chances to expose others before you ever know you have measles.
“It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body.”Measles Signs and Symptoms
While many diseases have a fever with or followed by a rash, it is very characteristic of measles that the fever continues for a few more days as the child develops the rash.
“You’ll usually feel most ill on the first or second day after the rash develops.”Measles Symptoms
This is when most kids get diagnosed, typically with laboratory confirmation.
Unfortunately, because of the high fever and irritability, they may have sought medical attention a few times and could have exposed a lot of people already, especially as you continue to be contagious until you have had the rash for at least four days.
“After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.”Measles Signs and Symptoms
All together, these classic measles symptoms typically last about a week. As the rash fades, parents might notice staining and then a fine desquamation (skin peeling).
Of course, if any complications develop, the symptoms can last much longer.
What complications? Remember, measles was once called a harmless killer…
Complications of measles can include:
- ear infections
And tragically, some kids don’t survive having measles.
“Furthermore, the risk of contracting other infections or dying remains high for several months after recovery from acute measles infection.”Treating Measles in Children
And although most do survive the acute infection, we know that these kids are still at risk for getting other infections in the next few months and are at a later risk for SSPE.
More on the Signs and Symptoms of Measles
- VAXOPEDIA – Everything You Need to Know About the Measles Vaccine
- VAXOPEDIA – What to Do If Your Child Is Exposed to Measles
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Are You Still Worried About the MMR Vaccine?
- VAXOPEDIA – The Myth That Measles Isn’t Deadly
- VAXOPEDIA – Who Is at Risk If You Don’t Vaccinate Your Kids?
- VAXOPEDIA – Who Dies with Measles?
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Are We Having Measles Outbreaks If MMR Vaccination Rates Are Not Declining?
- VAXOPEDIA – Did Gregory Poland Really Say That MMR Vaccines Can’t Prevent Measles Outbreaks?
- VAXOPEDIA – The Brady Bunch Measles Episode
- CDC – Measles Signs and Symptoms
- CDC – Complications of Measles
- NHS – Measles Symptoms
- WHO – Treating Measles in Children
- Measles Stories
- The Past Is Never Dead—Measles Epidemic, Boston, Massachusetts, 1713
- Identify-Isolate-Inform: A Tool for Initial Detection and Management of Measles Patients in the Emergency Department
- Challenges of measles and rubella laboratory diagnostic in the era of elimination.
- Atypical measles syndrome in adults: still around.
- Modified Measles: A Diagnostic Challenge.
- Koplik’s Spots: The Harbinger of a Measles Epidemic.
- A 6-year-old boy with fever, rash and severe pneumonia
- Study – Measles outbreak in Germany: clinical presentation and outcome of children hospitalized for measles in 2006.
- Difficulties in clinical diagnosis of measles: proposal for modified clinical case definition.
- A Typical Case of Measles
- Six Ways Measles Can Affect the Eyes
- One mother’s story: I went ahead with the measles vaccine despite my fears
- Measles Is Serious (A History Lesson from My Grandmother)
- I Was on the Front Line of L.A.’s Last Measles Outbreak
- Pediatrician Remembers Measles & Diphtheria in Charleston
- Pediatrician Remembers Measles Patients at Louisville General in the 1960s
- Pediatrician Remembers a Measles Outbreak Among the Amish
- Measles vaccine co-creator explains where the fear came from, and why it is unfounded
- The measles challenge for doctors: recognizing a disease they have never seen
- Measles outbreak frustrates pediatrician who recalls disease well
- Outbreak! On the front lines of a measles epidemic