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Measles Outbreak In Mumbai: Frequently Asked Questions About This Highly Communicable Disease

Measles Outbreak In Mumbai: Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about measles, which can cause serious complications among all age groups, especially young children.

Measles Outbreak In Mumbai: Frequently Asked Questions About This Highly Communicable Disease

MMR vaccine is very effective in preventing measles

Mumbai and other districts in Maharashtra have reported a sharp rise in measles cases. It reported 11 fresh measles cases and one suspected fatality, taking the tally of infections to 303. There have been at least 13 deaths in young children due to measles.

Measles: Frequently asked questions

1. How does measles spread?

Measles is a highly contagious disease, a respiratory infection, caused by a virus. The virus lives in the nose and throat of an infected person. It can spread by direct contact with infectious droplets or through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. The measles virus can remain infectious in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves an area. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90 percent of the people close to that person or who walk through the same area and are not immune also may become infected.

Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the appearance of a rash.

2. What are the symptoms? 

The symptoms of measles begin to manifest after 10 to 14 days of exposure. Some of the common symptoms include cough, runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat, fever, and a red, blotchy skin rash. The symptoms may last upto 10 days.

3. Can antibiotics treat measles?

No. Antibiotics are used for infections caused by bacteria. Measles is caused by a virus. There is no specific treatment for measles. Health-care professionals try to prevent the disease by administering the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine to children. Nonimmunized people, including infants, may be given the measles vaccination within 72 hours of exposure to the virus to provide protection against the disease. Pregnant women, infants and people with weakened immune systems who are exposed to the virus may receive a protein injection called immune serum globulin within six days of exposure to prevent measles or reduce the symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

4. How dangerous is measles?

Measles can be deadly, especially for babies and young children. Some people may have severe complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain), which can lead to hospitalization and death. Measles may cause pregnant woman to give birth prematurely or have a low-birth-weight baby. According to the CDC:

As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.

Unvaccinated children are at high risk of measles complications. Poorly nourished kids are at risk too.

5. How effective is the measles vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is very effective. One dose of the vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles. Two doses are about 97 percent effective, according to the CDC. CDC recommends that children get two MMR doses, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.

6. Why are infants at risk of measles?

If a baby's mother has had her MMR shots or had a measles infection in her life, she passes antibodies to her baby during fetal development and continued to pass them passively while breast-feeding. Those antibodies provide protection for young infants and typically are thought to protect infants for up to 6 months or more. However, the length of protection is not known. Immunity wanes for these babies as they age and the mom's antibodies fail to persist.

7. What is the Treatment?

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There is no medication that can eradicate the measles virus, once one gets it. Most recover on their own. You can take medication to lower fever and feel more comfortable. One must rest and drink lots of fluids. There may be diarrhoea, pneumonia, or middle ear infections, for which one must consult their doctor for treatment options.


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