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Measles, Adult

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Dec.03.2021
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Measles, Adult

Measles, Adult

Measles (rubeola) is a respiratory illness that causes a red rash to appear on the skin. This condition is easily spread, or contagious.

What are the causes?

This condition is caused by a virus. It can spread from one person to another through droplets released into the air when a person with the condition talks, coughs, or sneezes. You can get this condition by breathing in these droplets or by touching a surface where the infected droplets fell and then touching your mouth or nose.

Infected air droplets may be contagious for 2 hours.

What increases the risk?

You are more likely to develop this condition if:
  • You have never gotten a measles (MMR) vaccine.
  • You have never had this illness.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms of this condition include:
  • Fever.
  • White spots inside the mouth (Koplik spots).
  • Red, runny eyes (conjunctivitis) that might be extra sensitive to bright light.
  • Sneezing or coughing.
  • A sore throat.
  • A red rash that starts on the face and spreads to the body.

Symptoms usually begin 8–10 days after coming into contact with the virus. The rash is the last symptom to develop and lasts 3–5 days. In rare cases, there is no rash.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition may be diagnosed based on:
  • Your symptoms.
  • Your medical history.
  • A physical exam.
  • Blood or urine tests.
  • A throat swab.

How is this treated?

This condition goes away on its own, usually within 2 weeks of symptoms starting. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms and prevent complications from happening. Treatment may include:
  • Rest.
  • Drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated. If you become dehydrated, you may need to receive IV fluids.
  • Medicines that:
    • Reduce itching (antihistamine).
    • Reduce fever.

If you also develop a bacterial infection, you may need antibiotic medicines. Antibiotics do not cure measles.

Follow these instructions at home:

Managing itching, pain, and discomfort

  • Stay cool and out of the sun. Sweating and being hot can make itching worse.
  • Take cool baths. Add baking soda or dry oatmeal to the water to reduce itching. Do not bathe in hot water.
  • Put cold, wet cloths (cold compresses) on itchy areas as told by your health care provider.
  • Use calamine lotion as recommended by your health care provider. This is an over-the-counter lotion that helps to relieve itchiness.
  • If you have blisters in your mouth, do noteat or drink spicy, salty, or acidic things. Soft, bland, and cold foods and drinks are easiest to swallow.
  • Do not scratch or pick at the rash. To help avoid scratching:
    • Keep your fingernails clean and cut short.
    • Wear gloves or mittens while you sleep, if scratching is a problem.

General instructions

Three cups showing dark yellow, yellow, and pale yellow urine.
  • Rest as told by your health care provider.
  • Drink enough fluid to keep your urine pale yellow.
  • Keep the lights low if bright lights bother you.
  • Keep a humidifier in your room, if possible. This can help relieve your cough.
  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Keep all follow-up visits. This is important.

How is this prevented?

Measles can be prevented with a vaccine.
  • If you are exposed to measles and did not receive a vaccine or have not had measles, you may be able to get a vaccine or an antibody shot within 6 days of exposure to prevent infection.
  • Women who are pregnant or may be pregnant should not get the vaccine. The vaccine may cause pregnancy complications.
  • If you have had measles, you cannot get it again and do not need a vaccine.

To keep from spreading measles, stay away from others:
  • For at least 4 days after the rash appears.
  • Until your health care provider says that you are no longer contagious.

Be aware that measles cases are often reported to a public health agency. You may be contacted by a public health department and asked questions about how you got infected.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have ear pain or a headache.
  • You feel nauseous or you vomit.
  • You have symptoms that do not go away in 2 weeks.
  • You have symptoms of another illness.
  • You feel weak or dizzy.
  • You have urinated only a small amount of very dark urine over 6–8 hours.

Get help right away if:

  • You have not urinated in 6–8 hours.
  • You have a fever and your symptoms suddenly get worse.
  • You are breathing rapidly or have shortness of breath.
  • You have chest pain.
  • You are confused.
  • You have a seizure.

These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Summary

  • Measles (rubeola) is a respiratory illness that is easily spread (contagious) and causes a red rash to appear on the skin.
  • You can get this condition by breathing in droplets released into the air when a person with the condition talks, coughs, or sneezes, or by touching a surface where the infected droplets fell and then touching your mouth or nose.
  • This condition goes away on its own, usually within 2 weeks.
  • To keep from spreading measles, stay away from others until 4 days after the rash appears or until your health care provider says that you are no longer contagious.
  • Measles can be prevented with a vaccine.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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