What Parents/Caregivers need to know about Measles
A lot is being said about the promising covid-19 vaccine in the news and on social media, very little emphasis is placed on other vaccines that may save the lives of people from other deadly diseases that are actively taking the lives of people.
Measles is one of the cause of death worldwide, especially in children below the age of 5 years.
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a total of 9,316 people tested positive for measles, of which children aged 9- 59 months were about 58. 7%, in the year 2020.
Read more about how measles spread, the symptoms and ways it can be prevented.
What is measles?
Measles is an infection caused by a virus from the Paramyxovirus family.
It affects the respiratory tract before it spread around the body.
Measles only affect human beings and can be very deadly, if left untreated.
What are the symptoms of measles?
A classic sign of measles is a rash that appears on the body within 14 days a person is exposed to the virus.
It usually starts from the head and spreads to other area of the body slowly.
Other symptoms include sore throat, fever, cough, white spots in the mouth and red eyes.
What is the cause of measles?
The organism responsible for this disease is a virus that is highly contagious.
An infected person can release the virus when they sneeze or cough into the air and studies have shown that the measles virus can survive outside the body up to 2 hours.
If you come in contact with any objects such as a book, a table, a door handle that has been contaminated and you touch your face, nose or mouth, you will become infected.
Who are the people at risk of contacting measles?
Measles affect certain people because of their state of immunity, they include;
- Children below age 5
- Pregnant women
- The elderly
- People who have weak immjne system such as HIV and Cancer patients
- People who are malnourished
- People who are have not been vaccinated
How can measles be prevented?
- Practice good and hygiene always by washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizers
- Avoid sharing things with people who maybe ill
- Avoid coming in contact with sick people
- Get vaccinated
This is the best way to prevent measles as it has been proven to be effective.
Parents are advised to vaccinate their kids to strengthen their immunity against measles.
A total of 2 doses are administered on the left upper arm.
The first dose is given at the age of 9-15months along with the Yellow fever vaccine on the right upper arm and Meningococcal A vaccine on the left upper thigh.
The second dose is given at age 15-24 months or 1 month after the first dose.
Vitamin A is given along with the vaccines to prevent the eyes from being affected.
The measles vaccines (MCV) are available in various health centres across Nigeria.
The vaccine widely-available for adults is the MMR.
MMR is a three-in-one vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella.
Two doses are administered in total. The second dose is given one month after the second dose.
There are people who cannot receive the vaccine and they include;
- People who reacts to the constituents of the vaccine
- Pregnant women
- People who have weak immunity..
How to prevent the spread of measles
If you are sick with measles, it is advisable that you stay at home to prevent it from spreading and call your health provider.
Also, cough and sneeze into a tissue and dispose immediately. Remember to wash hands after.
If you don’t have a tissue, cough into your elbows not your hands.
How is measles treated?
Most viral infections like measles do not have specific treatments but symptoms are treated as they appear. For example, fever is treated with ibuprofen.
Measles can damage the eyes, hence, Vitamin A is often prescribed to prevent that from happening. Taking plenty of fluids and rest is also encouraged.
The symptoms and virus usually disappears within two to three weeks but it can cause severe complications such as;
- Infection of the ear
- Brain damage
- Preterm labour
- Infection of the lungs
There is an established fact about measles that says you can only be infected by measles only once, and cannot be infected again.
The same scenario plays when you vaccinate yourself, your kids and family members from measles.
Take a step to fortifying your household’s immunity. Visit a healthcare centre or your doctor to get started.