The Department of Health (DOH) has recently declared a measles outbreak in Metro Manila and Central Luzon. Measles is a highly contagious disease which infected 3,646 Filipinos last 2018—a high number compared to the 2017 record of 351 confirmed cases. Learn more about the initial symptoms of measles and how you can avoid spreading the infection to your loved ones.
What is measles?
Measles (also called rubeola) is a common respiratory disease that is caused by a virus. According to Mayo Clinic, it is considered to be a highly contagious disease which infects about 90% of susceptible people who are exposed to the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and and Prevention (CDC) explains that symptoms usually appear around 10 to 14 days after being exposed to the virus. Measles causes you to have flu-like symptoms like dry cough and high fever (up to 40°C). Another major indicator the disease is the presence of Koplik spots (tiny white spots) inside the mouth. Other signs of infection include:
- Presence of rashes
- Runny nose
- Red eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Aches and pains
- Loss of appetite
Stages of infection
Mayo Clinic explains that the course of infection occurs over a period of two to three weeks:
- Infection and incubation – no obvious symptoms for the first 10-14 days after being exposed to the virus.
- Nonspecific signs and symptoms – you may experience the mentioned flu-like symptoms like mild to moderate fever, persistent cough, sore eyes, and sore throat. Lasts two to three days.
- Acute illness and rash – the presence of small red spots, usually starts around the facial area and spreads down. This is also when a high fever occurs.
- Communicable period – measles is highly contagious so your doctor may recommend that you stay at home for at least four days after your first break out.
Being unvaccinated puts you at great risk of developing the disease. Certain studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) also connects vitamin A deficiency to increased chances of acquiring measles. Another risk factor is traveling to developing countries where the infection is more common.
Vaccination can greatly reduce your risk so it’s important that you protect yourself from the disease by getting the recommended dosage of measles-containing vaccine. If you were born any time after 1957 or if you are in custody of a child who is older than six months old, then it is recommended that you visit your family doctor to get vaccinated. If you were recently diagnosed with measles, then it is important that you isolate yourself from the other members in your household to avoid spreading the disease.