Measles Virus

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Measles Virus

MeaslesCausative agent: measles virus.

Signs and symptoms

The onset of measles is marked by fever followed by the “three C’s” – coryza, conjunctivitis and cough. These signs will peak at about 3 to 4 days around the time the rash appears. The rash starts on the face and progresses to the feet over 3 days changing from a discrete to a confluent rash. Once the rash appears, the fever and respiratory signs tend to improve. The rash fades over the next few days to leave a brown stain with generalised peeling of the skin. The course of measles generally resolves over a 10-day period. Incubation period is 10-12 days.

Mode of spread

Measles is spread by contact with secretions of infected persons by large-particle droplets requiring close contact or small-particle aerosols which allow distant mode of spread. Direct contact may also occur via contact with contaminated surface or objects. Measles is considered contagious from onset of symptoms through the first day of rash.

Diagnosis is often made clinically. Confirmation may be made by rapid antigen tests or measles IgM antibody.


Measles is a self-limiting disease and treatment is mainly supportive. Antibiotics should be given only for proven bacterial complications such as otitis media.

Complications can include pneumonia and encephalitis (brain infection).

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