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1. What is measles?
Measles is a highly infectious disease that is caused by measles virus. It is a respiratory illness which is easily spread through sneezing and coughing of an infected patient. Most people do not contract measles infection more than once in their lifetime.
2. What are the symptoms of measles?
Symptoms of measles appear 10 to 14 days after exposure to the virus and include:
Watery, red eyes (conjunctivitis)
Tiny greyish-white spots in the mouth called Koplik's spots
Skin rash that joins together to form blotchy patches as they spread from head to other parts of the body
3. What are the stages of measles and how long does a person stay infectious?
The stages of measles are:
Incubation - virus incubates for the first 10 to 14 days after infection
Nonspecific signs and symptoms - lasts for 2 to 3 days, showing all the symptoms except skin rash
Skin rash - are seen along with high fever, which recedes after a few days
Contagious period - occurs in the four days before the rash appears and for another four days when rash exists
4. Is there a way to prevent it?
The best way of preventing measles is by vaccination. There are two doses of measles vaccine that have to be taken, and it is said to be 97% efficient in its prevention. The first dose of this vaccine is usually given to children at 12 months, or sooner if they are travelling abroad, and the second dose is given between the ages of 4 and 6.
5. How fast does it spread?
Measles can spread easily through a cough or sneeze of a measles patient if you are not immunised. A patient can spread it 4 days prior to the skin rash, and for 4 days after the rash begins. Also, the virus is known to live for up to 2 hours in the air or on a surface. Thus, you can contract measles if you come in contact with such an infected surface and then touch your nose, mouth, or eyes.