Measles is a highly contagious, serious disease caused by a virus. The measles virus normally grow in the cells that line the back of the throat and lungs. It remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
Who is at risk?
- Unvaccinated young children are at highest risk of measles and its complications, including death.
- Unvaccinated pregnant women.
- Any non-immune person (who has not been vaccinated or was vaccinated but did not develop immunity).
The highly contagious virus is spread by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.
The virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to two hours.
It can be transmitted by an infected person from four days prior to the onset of the rash to four days after the rash erupts.
Measles outbreaks can result in epidemics that cause many deaths, especially among young, malnourished children.
Signs and symptoms
- The first sign of measles is usually a high fever, which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus, and lasts four to seven days.
- A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage.
- After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over about three days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet.
- The rash lasts for five to six days, and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of seven to 18 days).
Measles outbreak in the Philippines
Measles outbreak in the National Capital Region (NCR) has been declared by the Department of Health (DOH) in the first week of January 2014.
DOH with the local government units heightened campaign against the spread of measles in the NCR. Children aged 9 to 11 months have been receiving their first dose of the measles vaccine, while children aged 12 to 23 months have been inoculated with their second dose.
Mobile teams have been deployed for a door-to-door approach that will ensure children 9 months to 59 months (5 years) old receive their first dose or complete with their second.