By: Chloe Yarbrough

What is the History of Measles?

In the 9th century, a Persian doctor published one of the first written accounts of measles disease. Then Francis Home, a Scottish physician, demonstrated in 1757 that measles is caused by an infectious agent in the blood of patients. In 1912, measles became a nationally notifiable disease in the United States, requiring U.S. healthcare providers and laboratories to report all diagnosed cases.

What is Measles and what part of the body does it affect?

It is a repository infection that causes a total body skin rash. It is a highly infectious illness caused by a virus. The virus lives is the mucus of the throat and nose of the people infected.
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How does Measles affect the body? & What are the forms or types of the disease?

If you have Measles, it starts with a fever and a rash but can spread to the brain. When this happens, your immune system can not handle it, and the brain swells and you are most likely going to die. If you live, you will probably be blind, deaf, or mental retardation due to the brain swelling. You can also develop pneumonia and that can be fatal as well.

The Rubeola virus causes "red measles" & the Rubella virus causes "German measles" which is a milder version of measles or Rubeola virus.

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How is Measles transmitted?

It can spread to others by coughing or sneezing. The measles virus can live up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they will become infected. Measles is so infectious that if one person has it 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.
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How many people does this disease affect? 114,900 deaths globally in 2014, about 314 deaths every day or 13 deaths every hour.

Does it affect a certain age group? Yes, in young children. Measles is one of the leading causes of death among children even though a vaccine is available. Measles can also be fatal in every age group, not just children. non Vaccinated children are more at risk, pregnant women, or any non immune person.

Mortality Rates? With vaccines, the US went from a .000237 PERCENT death rate among the general population from measles in 1963 to a 0.000000% measles death rate. It's a different story around the world though. Global measles mortality declined by 78%, from an estimated 733,000 deaths in 2000 to 164,000 in 2008, but the reduction in measles mortality has been leveling off since 2007.

Does it affect a certain ethnic group? Measles is a relatively unusual disease in that the fatality rate is very low in modern Western populations, while in isolated populations of other races or ethnic groups mortality rates may exceed 25%. Explanations for this difference are examined, including genetics, culture, epidemiology and malnutrition. All four factors, especially differences in nutritional state and in culture, might have a significant effect in increasing mortality rates for measles in Black Africans. Basically, it is where you live. Underdeveloped countries have increased rates of measles more than the US.

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Signs & Symptoms

The first sign of measles is usually a high fever, which begins about 10-12 days after exposure to the illness and lasts for about 4-7 days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage. After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over about 3 days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for 5 to 6 days, and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of 7 to 18 days).


Your doctor can usually diagnose measles based on the disease's characteristic rash as well as a small, bluish-white spot on a bright red background — Koplik's spot — on the inside lining of the cheek. If necessary, a blood test can confirm whether the rash is truly measles.

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No specific antiviral treatment exists for measles virus.

Severe complications from measles can be avoided through supportive care that ensures good nutrition, adequate fluid intake and treatment of dehydration. All children in developing countries diagnosed with measles should receive two doses of vitamin A supplements, given 24 hours apart. This treatment restores low vitamin A levels during measles that occur even in well-nourished children and can help prevent eye damage and blindness. Vitamin A supplements have been shown to reduce the number of deaths from measles by 50%.


Routine measles vaccination (MMR Vaccine) for children, combined with mass immunization campaigns in countries with high case and death rates, are key public health strategies to reduce global measles deaths. The measles vaccine has been in use for over 50 years. It is safe, effective and inexpensive. It costs approximately one US dollar to immunize a child against measles.

In 2014, about 85% of the world's children received 1 dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 73% in 2000. Two doses of the vaccine are recommended to ensure immunity and prevent outbreaks, as about 15% of vaccinated children fail to develop immunity from the first dose. The MMR vaccine is about 93% effective and 97% effective with two doses.

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So, If you get measles and survive can you get it again?

No, Once you have measles you can not get it again because you are now immune to the disease.

Why don't people get vaccines for Measles even though it is 97% effective?

People in the United States do not get vaccines or do not get their kid vaccinated is because they believe vaccines are harmful. Some people are against vaccines because they think it causes autism, or other diseases/disorders. But there is no proven link to vaccines causing autism or other diseases/disorders.

What is "Measles Elimination" mean, And is this in the U.S.?

"Measles Elimination" is where there is an absence of continuous disease transmission for 12 months or more in a specific geographic area. Measles is no longer endemic (constantly present) in the United States.

If measles is eliminated, why do people in the U.S. Still get measles?

Every year, measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers (Americans or foreign visitors) who get measles while they are in other countries. They can spread measles to other people who are not protected against measles, which sometimes leads to outbreaks. This can occur in communities with unvaccinated people.

Most people in the United States are protected against measles through vaccination, so measles cases in the U.S. are uncommon compared to the number of cases before a vaccine was available.