Measles is a contagious infectious disease of a very contagious nature, which is spread by respiratory , whose main reservoir are humans. Its main characteristic are pink skin rashes (rashes) that appear in the epidermis of the patient. It is one of the exanthematic diseases of childhood; This means that, generally, it appears in children.
The origin of this infection is viral. Specifically, it is a virus of the genus Morbillivirus known as Paramyxovirus. This virus is capable of breaking the cell membranes and fusing some cells with others, resulting in giant cells that alter the body until it is destroyed if it is not treated properly.
Depending on the period of the disease in which they appear, the symptoms will vary. Therefore, we have:
- Incubation period. It includes the stage from the time of infection by the virus to the presence of fever in the patient. Its duration varies from ten days to two weeks.
- Invasive period The fever reaches its maximum, these high figures are some of the most characteristic features of measles.
- This phase is accompanied by general malaise, rhinitis, laryngitis and conjunctivitis. In most cases, whitish papules usually appear on the buccal mucosa ( ) surrounded by an erythematous halo. This finding is useful to know at what stage the disease is, since the Koplik spots always appear 1 or 2 days before the rash.
- Exanthematic period. It appears after two weeks from the moment of infection. Rosaceous skin rashes (numerous and small) are evident around the head, and extend throughout the body. Unlike other exanthematic diseases, there are no rashes on the palms of the hands or feet. As the rash disappears (usually lasts five days), the skin dries and flakes.
In immunosuppressed patients, the symptoms last longer and are more intense. In the rarer cases, it causes subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. It is an infection that appears years after the measles infection and can lead to death if not treated early.
Normally, a routine examination is enough to diagnose the disease. The pathognomonic features are high fever, Koplik’s spots and rashes. In special cases, an immunological study may be performed. This consists in making a
- Demonstration of specific immunoglobulins.
- Demonstration of specific immunoglobulin M.
- Isolation of the virus.
- Detection of virus antigens.
The treatment is fundamentally symptomatic. There is no cure as such, but it can alleviate the great discomfort produced by the symptoms. The most used for generalized pain, antitussives and drugs to counteract fever. If the exanthematic period is intense, ointments can be applied with the aim of relieving itching.
With all this, measles is a disease that can be eradicated without any problem. It is simply necessary to administer the vaccine in the first years of life. It should be remembered that it is a disease that is related to (coma, psychoneurological deterioration, ataxia, myoclonus, etc.). That is, its consequences can incapacitate the person for life or even determine his death.
This vaccine is present in all vaccination schedules , but today not all parents agree to immunize their children. This is the main reason why it continues to appear in developed countries, while in less developed countries it is a cause of infant death due to lack of access to the vaccine.