Childhood Diseases: Measles
Once a common disease of childhood, measles is becoming quite unusual in Britain. The most obvious symptom is the rash of brownish-pink, slightly raised spots which starts behind the ears and spreads in blotches over the whole body.
But before the rash breaks out, a dry, irritating cough generally occurs and the patient develops a high temperature. The cough can occur up to four days before the rash starts. The eyes are usually sore and red, or ‘heavy’, before the rash.
The disease is likely to last five to seven days after the rash starts.
Once you’ve had measles, you can’t catch it a second time. To prevent the disease, all children should be immunised with MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine in their second year.
What you should do
• Put the patient – usually a child – to bed and give cool drinks to bring the temperature down. It does not matter if the child does not want to eat, as long as plenty of fluids are taken.
• Notify your doctor.
• Keep the child quiet and resting while there is a high temperature and illness. Many children prefer the room darkened because their eyes feel sore.
• If necessary, give temperature-reducing drugs such as paracetamol in the doses recommended on the packet.