Measles Outbreaks

By United Family Healthcare 2019-05-30 14:00:56

United Family Healthcare (UFH) give you what you need to know

Measles Outbreaks

United Family Healthcare (UFH) give you what you need to know

The number of measles cases this year so far represents a 300% increase from the number of cases seen in the previous year, with over 110,000 measles cases in the first three months of 2019. An outbreak in Hong Kong in May followed large increases in the Philippines (25,000 cases and 355 deaths) and the United States. Outbreaks in 2019 have also occurred in Ukraine, Madagascar, India, Australia, Cambodia, Japan, Laos, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam. Measles remains a global issue.

What do we need to know about measles and how can we prevent it?

Measles is a highly contagious virus:

• The infection is characterized by fever, malaise, cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis, followed by a body rash.

• Tragically, most of the cases are among children under 5 years old.

• Measles can cause debilitating complications, including encephalitis, severe diarrhea and dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections, and permanent vision loss.

• The period of contagiousness is from 5 days before appearance of rash to 4 days afterward.

• The illness may be transmitted in public spaces, even in the absence of person-to-person contact.

People who are at risk for measles include:

• Children too young to get a measles shot.

• People who have never had a measles shot.

• People who did not get a second measles shot.

• People who got a shot that did not work well.

• Children from 6 through 11 months should receive one dose of MMR. Children who receive the first dose of MMR before age 12 months should receive two additional doses, separated by at least 28 days, beginning at age 12 to 15 months.

• Children ≥12 months of age should receive two doses of MMR separated by at least 28 days, with the first dose administered on or after the first birthday.


What are the symptoms of measles?

The first symptoms can include: a high fever – up to 40ºC; feeling sick, cold symptoms; loss of appetite; spots in the mouth (Koplik spots).

After the first symptoms, many people have: pink eyes (light-sensitive); sneezing and coughing and a red rash that starts on the face and spreads to the body. The rash should resolve after 3-4 days, with the skin peeling, followed by the other symptoms, while the cough may continue for 1 to 2 weeks.

How is measles treated?

For most people, there is no specific treatment, but important steps to take include supportive care, rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking acetaminophen to help with fever and aches. Doctors also sometimes give vitamin A to children with severe measles.

Can measles be prevented?

Yes. The MMR vaccine prevents infection.

All children should get the MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) vaccine when they are 12 to 18 months old. Then they need a second shot when they are 4 to 6 years old. A child should have the second shot before he or she starts school. The MR vaccine (Measles Rubella) is also an efficient tool against Measles; according to the China Center of Disease and Control (CDC), babies and children living in China need to get the MR vaccine at 8 months old.


Tong Wei Chng MD

Chief of Pediatrics

Shanghai United Family Pudong Hospital