Measles is a highly communicable disease, characterized by a prodrome of fever, red blotchy rash usually begins on the face, and then spreads to rest of the body.
Most children have uncomplicated measles. Infants and adults tend to suffer more complications. In developing countries, deaths generally occur in 1–5% of cases, but may be as high as 25% in populations with elevated levels of malnutrition and poor access to health care.
characterized by a prodrome of fever, conjunctivitis (i.e. red eyes), coryza (i.e. runny nose), cough, small whitish spots on the buccal mucosa (inside the mouth) called Koplik spots, and a characteristic, red blotchy rash appearing between days 3 and 7 of the illness. The rash usually begins on the face, and then spreads to rest of the body; it lasts for 4–7 days. More complications include acute otitis media, diarrhoea, bronchopneumonia, laryngotracheobronchitis and encephalitis
The infectious agent is the measles virus (genus Morbillivirus, family Paramyxoviridae).
Mode of transmission
Measles is spread by airborne droplets (through coughing and sneezing), direct contact with nasal and throat secretions of infected individuals, or through objects, such as toys, that have been in close contact with an infected person. The virus remains alive in the air or on infected surfaces for about 2 hours.
Immunization is the key to prevention of measles. It is usually implemented through mass campaigns or routine immunization programmes. Improving and maintaining high levels of routine immunization coverage is important to prevent outbreaks.
- WHO vaccine-preventable diseases: monitoring system: 2009 global summary. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2009 (WHO/IVB/2009) (https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/70149/WHO_IVB_2009_eng.pdf).
- Integrated management of childhood illness for high HIV settings: chart booklet. WHO/UNICEF, 2008 (Chart_Booklet 18.07.06 (who.int)).