Communicable Diseases



  • Measles is a childhood infection caused by a virus.
  • The infected person can transmit the virus during incubation period (before the onset of symptoms).
  • Measles can be diagnosed by the disease's characteristic rash and a small, white spots on the inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek.
  • There is no treatment for measles after exposure.
  • The best way to prevent measles is to get the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.


Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which affects mostly children and can cause serious complications,

Other Names:

It occurs when the measles virus is transmitted to the body.

Incubation Period:
For 10-12 days of exposure to the virus, after which the measles symptoms appear.

The virus lives in the nose and throat of an infected person and can spread to others through coughing and sneezing, and the germ-laden droplets can stay on surfaces and the virus remains active (infectious) for up to two hours, therefore a healthy person can be infected through touching the infected surfaces and then touching his mouth or nose or eye.

The virus can be spread to others form incubation until the fourth day of the onset of rash.

Risk Factors:
  • Being unvaccinated.
  • Weak immunity.
  • Having a vitamin A deficiency.
  • Travelling to measles- endemic countries. 
Stages and Symptoms: 
The infection occurs in sequential stages over a period of two to three weeks:

Nonspecific signs and symptoms:

  • Measles typically begins with a mild to moderate fever, often accompanied by a persistent cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis) and sore throat. This relatively mild illness may last two or three days.
  • Acute illness and rash:
  • The rash consists of small red spots, starting on the face especially behind the ears and on hairline, spreading to arms and trunk, then over the thighs down to legs and feet, covering most body parts. At the same time, the fever raises sharply, often as high as 40 to 41 C.  
  • The measles rash gradually recedes, fading first from the face and last from the thighs and feet. 
When to see a doctor?
When exposed to an infected person or the appearance of a rash, and when you think your child has a rash resembling measles. 

  • Otitis media (middle ear) infection (the most common).
  • Diarrhea.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Encephalitis.
  • Pregnancy problems: abortion or preterm labor. 
  • Low number of platelets.
  • Clinical examination: Your doctor can usually diagnose measles based on the disease's characteristic rash as well as a small, bluish-white spot on a bright red background (Koplik's spot) on the inside lining of the cheek.
  • Lab Tests: A blood test can confirm whether the rash is truly measles.
There's no specific treatment for an established measles infection. However, its symptoms can be relieved by taking some measures, including: 
  • Post-exposure vaccination: Measles vaccination may be given within 72 hours of exposure to the measles virus for those who have not taken the vaccine in advance.
  • Immune serum globulin: A protein injection (antibodies) given within six days of exposure to the virus.
  • Increase fluid intake to avoid dehydration.
  • Dim the light and close curtains in the place to reduce eye sensitivity to light.
The following medications may be prescribed for measles: 
  • Fever reducers.
  • Antibiotics (if a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia or an ear infection, develops). 
  • Vitamin A supplements to lessen the symptoms and complications of measles. 
  • The best prevention method is to get MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella). It is one of routine vaccinations for children.
  • Keep the infected people away from the healthy until they recover, to prevent infection transmission.
  • In general, a person is considered to be safe if he has contracted the disease previously or taken the vaccine in advance. Usually 2-dose of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is given before school age. 
  • First dose is given at the age of 12 months and the second at 18 months. 
Barriers to MMR: 
  • Pregnant women or women planning to conceive within the next four weeks.
  • People with a high sensitivity of gelatin or antibiotic Neomycin.
  • People with severe immune system impairment, or who are taking oral steroids.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
  • Has measles and rubella been eliminated in Saudi Arabia?
  • By the end of 2020, Allah willing. 
  • What is the difference between measles and rubella?
  • German measles is usually less severe than measles and is eliminated within 3 days. If a woman is infected with German measles during pregnancy, the fetus may be exposed to congenital measles syndrome.
  • Is there a link between measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and autism?
  • There is no association between MMR vaccine and autism, according to studies.

Last Update : 06 March 2019 02:47 PM
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