Measles (Rubeola) (cont.)
Edmond Hooker, MD, DrPH
Dr. Eddie Hooker is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Louisville and at Wright State University. His areas of expertise include emergency medicine, epidemiology, health-services management, and public health.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Measles facts
- What is measles?
- What is rubeola?
- What is rubella?
- What are other names for measles?
- What is the history of measles?
- What causes measles?
- How is measles spread?
- How does one become immune to measles?
- Who is at risk for getting measles?
- Is measles deadly?
- What is the danger of getting measles while pregnant?
- If I am exposed, how long does it take to develop symptoms and signs?
- What are measles symptoms and signs?
- What are the complications seen with measles?
- What is atypical measles?
- What is modified measles?
- How is the diagnosis of measles made?
- If it is not measles, what else could it be?
- What should I do if I have been exposed to measles?
- Is there any treatment for measles after symptoms and signs develop?
- If measles only rarely occurs in the United States, why should I get vaccinated?
- Do I need to be revaccinated against measles if I am traveling to Europe?
- What is the prognosis for measles?
- How can I prevent contracting measles?
- Is there any truth to the fear of getting autism from vaccines?
- Who should not receive measles vaccinations?
- If a child has an egg allergy, can they still receive the measles vaccine?
- What adverse reactions can occur to the measles vaccination?
- Who should be revaccinated against measles?
- Where can I find more information about measles?
What complications are seen with measles?
Approximately 30% of cases of measles have an associated complication. These complications can include diarrhea (8%), ear infections (7%), pneumonia (6%), blindness (1%), acute brain inflammation (encephalitis) (0.1%), and persistent brain inflammation (subacute sclerosing panencephalitis) (0.0001%).
Blindness associated with measles is due to a combination of poor nutrition (specifically vitamin A deficiency) and the measles infection. Prevention is the most effective treatment. In third-world countries, post-measles blindness is the leading cause of blindness, with up to 60,000 cases occurring annually.
Acute encephalitis, although rare, is extremely dangerous and results in death in approximately 15% of patients who develop it. When it occurs, acute encephalitis generally starts six days after onset of the rash. Symptoms can include fever, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, drowsiness, seizures, and coma.
Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSP) is an extremely rare degenerative condition of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). It is believed to be caused by a chronic infection of the central nervous system with the measles virus. Typically, symptoms start years after the patient had measles (average seven years, range one month to 27 years). The patient has a slow and progressive loss of brain function, seizures, and eventually death results. There is no known treatment for SSP.
Most deaths from measles are due to pneumonia in children and encephalitis in adults. There are approximately 2.2 deaths per 1,000 people who get the measles. The people most likely to have complications (including death) are those who are malnourished or who have weakened immune systems (for example, people with AIDS or other conditions that weaken the immune system).
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