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Two children lost their lives to measles and 17 others were diagnosed with the contagious viral infection in Madhya Pradesh’s Maihar ringing alarm bells among health authorities in the district for containing the spread. Measles can be effectively prevented with vaccine among children, but many missed their doses in pandemic years. As per World Health Organization (WHO), in the year 2022, an estimated 11 lakh children missed their first dose of the measles vaccine in India, placing the country among the ten nations with the highest measles vaccination gap, even post-pandemic. To prevent its spread and future outbreaks, awareness about its symptoms, appropriate supportive care and promoting vaccination are essential steps. (Also read | Measles: A deadly disease that can be prevented)

Measles typically begins with symptoms resembling those of a common cold, including fever, runny nose, cough, and red, watery eyes. (Shutterstock)

In recent months, Madhya Pradesh has been grappling with a concerning outbreak of measles, a highly contagious viral infection.

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Dr Neha Rastogi, Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Fortis Hospital, Gurgaon in an interview with HT Digital shares symptoms, treatment options, and preventive measures to combat the spread of this disease.

Symptoms of Measles

Measles typically begins with symptoms resembling those of a common cold, including fever, runny nose, cough, and red, watery eyes. However, the characteristic sign of measles is the development of a red, blotchy rash that starts on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body. This rash usually appears a few days after the initial symptoms and can persist for up to a week.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat

Treatment

Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment for measles. However, supportive care can help alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment may include:

1. Bed rest: Resting helps the body fight the infection and recover more quickly.

2. Hydration: Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, juice, or electrolyte solutions, helps prevent dehydration, especially if there is fever or diarrhoea.

3. Fever reducers: Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce fever and alleviate discomfort. Aspirin should be avoided in children due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome.

4. Vitamin A: In areas where vitamin A deficiency is common, supplementation with vitamin A has been shown to reduce the severity and risk of complications from measles.

5. Isolation: Infected individuals should be isolated to prevent the spread of the virus to others, especially those who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised.

Prevention

“Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent measles. The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is typically administered in two doses, with the first dose given at 12-15 months of age and the second dose at 4-6 years of age. Maintaining high vaccination coverage within the community helps protect vulnerable individuals and prevent outbreaks,” says Dr Rastogi.

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