Measles (Rubeola)


measles or rubeola (rōōbē´ələ), highly contagious disease of young children, caused by a filterable virus and spread by droplet spray from the nose, mouth, and throat of individuals in the infective stage. This period begins 2 to 4 days before the appearance of the rash and lasts from 2 to 5 days thereafter. The first symptoms of measles, after an incubation period of 7 to 14 days, are fever, nasal discharge, and redness of the eyes. Characteristic white spots appear in the mouth, followed by a rash on the face that spreads to the rest of the body. The symptoms disappear in 4 to 7 days.

One attack of measles confers lifelong immunity. However, it renders the patient susceptible to other more serious infections such as bronchial pneumonia and encephalitis. The measles virus has also been associated with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), which causes chronic brain disease in children and adolescents. After the attack of measles, it can cause intellectual deterioration, convulsive seizures, and motor abnormalities and is usually fatal. Common measles in pregnant women can be a threat to the unborn child, and vaccination of women well before pregnancy is recommended (see also rubella, or German measles).

Immunization by injection of live measles-virus vaccine, first marketed in 1963, has proven effective. Given at first with gamma globulin, the vaccine was further developed by 1965 so that one shot alone gives long-term, probably lifetime, immunity; a nationwide program was established in the United States for the vaccination of all children over the age of nine months. Measles has been eliminated in the Americas, but epidemics still occur in regions where vaccination rates are low and health care is poor, and outbreaks can occur in the Americas when infected persons travel there from other regions.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Measles (Rubeola): Selected full-text books and articles

Viruses, Plagues, and History By Michael B. A. Oldstone Oxford University Press, 2000
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "Measles Virus"
Measles Outbreak Revives Debate over Vaccine Laws By Flaccus, Gillian The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), February 2, 2019
Measles Eradication: Experience in the Americas By de Quadros, C. A.; Hersh, B. S.; Nogueira, A. C.; Carrasco, P. A.; da Silveira, C. M Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Vol. 76, No. 2, March 1998
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Why Measles Outbreaks in Europe? By Cheng, Maria Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), March 5, 2018
People Avoiding Jabs Lets Measles Back In The Mirror (London, England), July 6, 2018
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