Measles is preventable by immunisation but high levels of coverage are required to prevent outbreaks of disease from occurring.
No specific treatment for measles is available except for supportive care.
Complications of measles are more common in immunocompromised and poorly nourished individuals and include pneumonia, laryngotracheitis, otitis media, and encephalitis.
Measles is a highly infectious disease caused by measles virus, characterised by a maculopapular rash, cough, coryza, conjunctivitis, and a pathognomonic enanthem (Koplik's spots) with an incubation period of about 10 days.
History and exam
Key diagnostic factors
- potential exposure to measles
- unimmunised or vaccine failure
- Koplik's spots
- maculopapular rash
- exposure to measles virus
- no prior immunisation against measles
- failure to respond to measles vaccine
1st investigations to order
- measles-specific IgM and IgG serology (ELISA)
Investigations to consider
- acute and convalescent sera for measles-specific IgG
- measles RNA detection by PCR
- antigen detection by fluorescent antibody or PCR techniques
- isolation of virus in tissue culture system
Elizabeth Barnett, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Boston University School of Medicine
Boston Medical Center
EB has received research grant funding from Pfizer for COVID-19, RSV and pneumococcal vaccine studies. She has received royalties writing for UptoDate (evaluation of newly arrived immigrants) and AAP (parasitic disease treatment).
Linda Nield, MD, FAAP
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
West Virginia University School of Medicine
LN is an author of a reference cited in this topic.
Aisha Sethi, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Associate Residency Program Director
University of Chicago
AS declares that she has no competing interests.
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