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17 Cases of Measles, 2 Children Dead in MP: How Effective Are the Vaccines?

How does Measles spread? How effective is the vaccine? FIT answers your FAQs

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Fit
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Schools in eight villages in Madhya Pradesh's Maihar district have been shut for three days after as many as 17 children were infected and two died due to measles.

The deaths occurred last week on 14 and 16 February, with one deceased being only seven years old.

Presently, seven of the infected children are under hospital care and health officials are working towards containing the spread of the disease.

As the community grapples with this outbreak, FIT answers all your FAQs about the symptoms, treatments, and necessary precautions to protect against measles.

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What is measles?

According to the World Health Organization, measles is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the measles virus (MeV).

It primarily affects children but can occur in individuals of any age who are not immune.

How contagious is it?

Measles is an airborne disease that spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks.

The virus can remain suspended in the air for several hours, making it highly contagious in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces.

Speaking to FIT for a previous article, Dr Giridhar Babu, Epidemiologist at Public Health Foundation of India, who has worked in the National Measles programme in the past said, "Up to 9 out of 10 susceptible persons with close contact to a measles patient will develop measles."

Can you catch it from an asymptomatic person?

Yes, infected individuals can transmit the virus even before symptoms appear, making it challenging to identify and contain the spread of the disease.

What are the symptoms?

If you suspect having contracted measles or live in a region with a known outbreak, consult a doctor in case of the following symptoms.

  • High fever exceeding 101°F

  • Red, blotchy rash that starts on the face and spreads to the body

  • Persistent cough, nasal congestion, and runny nose

  • Inflammation of the eyes (conjunctivitis)

  • Redness and watery eyes

  • Sore throat and difficulty swallowing

  • Fatigue and weakness

  • Small white spots with bluish centres inside the mouth

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Can measles cause severe illness or long term health issues?

Measles can lead to severe respiratory complications, including pneumonia, which is the leading cause of measles-related deaths.

Inflammation of the brain is a rare but serious complication of measles, occurring in approximately 1 in 1,000 cases.

In severe cases, particularly among vulnerable populations such as young children or individuals with compromised immune systems, measles can be fatal.

Even in survivors, measles can have long-term health consequences, including vision loss, neurological problems, and impaired immune function.

How it is treated?

There is no specific antiviral treatment for measles, so management focuses on alleviating symptoms and preventing complications.

This may include rest, hydration, fever-reducing medications, and supportive care. In severe cases, hospitalisation may be necessary.

How effective is the measles vaccine in preventing infection?

The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine still remains the most effective way to prevent measles.

The vaccine that is offered as a routine childhood vaccine in India as part of the national immunisation programme, provides long-term immunity and helps protect individuals and communities from outbreaks.

I didn't receive the MMR vaccine as a child. Can I still take it as an adult?

Yes, it is safe for adults to take the measles vaccine as well. Unvaccinated adults should take two doses of the vaccine with a gap of 28 days according to the World Health Organization.

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What other precautions should I take to protect myself and my family?

Hygiene: Practicing good hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding close contact with sick individuals can help reduce the risk of measles transmission.

Isolation: Infected individuals should be isolated to prevent the spread of the virus to others, especially in healthcare settings or households with unvaccinated individuals.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Measles   FAQ 

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