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Measles is caused by a virus

Updated: Wednesday, Jul 07,2010, 3:48:07 PM
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Measles is caused by a virus. The symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, sore and reddened eyes, followed by the characteristic red-brown rash.  The rash usually starts on the face and spreads down the body, lasting three or more days.

The incubation period - that's the time between exposure to someone with the disease and the onset of the symptoms - is about 10 days. The red rash shows up three days to a week after the first symptoms. People are contagious from just before symptoms appear until 4 to 5 days after the rash appears.

The Centers for  there is no real treatment except bed rest. Most children are very sick, running a high fever and feeling uncomfortable, but most recover with no ill effects. Measles can cause pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, or ear infections.  The disease hits very young children and adults harder.

Measles is preventable by vaccination.   recommends that children receive the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine beginning at age 12 to 15 months and again at 4 to 6. They should be reassessed at 11 to 12 years of age and if they haven't had all the proper immunizations, they should get them. Children older than that should get catch-up immunizations, if they need them. Adults born before 1957 are assumed to be immune since they probably had the disease as a child and you only get measles once.

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