Measles is a highly infectious virus and having it isn’t much fun. Though it can affect anyone, kids between one and four are particularly prone. It’s one of those conditions for which there is no specific cure – the body’s immune system has to fight it off without help. The good news is that though measles is an unpleasant disease, unless complications arise, there’s no lasting damage and if your child has the MMR vaccine at 13 months, and then again at between 3 and 5 years, they will be protected.

Measles is spread in the same way as a cough or cold and in its early stages the symptoms are similar: a dry cough, a runny nose and generally feeling tired and unwell. Physical contact with someone infected, or with something they have handled, can also spread the disease. Other crucial symptoms are a high temperature, diarrhoea and vomiting and little white spots inside the mouth. Three or four days after these first symptoms start to show, a red rash will appear around the head and neck, which will then spread down the body.

If you think your child has measles you need to see a doctor, who is then required by law to notify the local authourities. This is so that a record can be kept of how many people in the country have the disease. Ordinary painkillers can help ease the symptoms, but the most important reason to seek proper medical help is so that your GP can check for any more serious complications: ear, eye and chest infections, including pneumonia, can sometimes result, and these need special treatment of their own. Children with measles should be kept away from other kids. Otherwise it’s a question of resting, staying hydrated and waiting for the body to fight off the infection, which can take between a week and 10 days.

If your child has not had the MMR jab and they do come into contact with someone who has measles, make sure they get the MMR jab within 72 hours, as this may still prevent the onset of the illness.

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Content supplied by NHS Choices

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness. It causes a range of symptoms including fever, coughing and distinctive red-brown spots on the skin. Read More »