Mothers are often alarmed when they see any widespread rash on their children thinking it is measles. Some parents even disbelieve their doctor when they are told it is not measles. Let’s look at what Measles is and what to do if your child really has it.
What is Measles?
Measles is a contagious respiratory tract infection caused by a virus. Contagious means it can be spread from one person to another. Because it is caused by a virus, there is no specific treatment for it.
So how do I know if my child’s rash is Measles?
There are 5 signs that have be present before you can say a child has measles
- Generalized rash
- Red eyes (conjunctivitis aka “Apollo” in local parlance)
- Runny nose
There may also be small red spots with bluish white centers called Koplik’s spots in the mouth. The first symptoms are usually cough, runny nose, high fever and red eyes, the rash usually follows about 3-5 days later. Now you know, so don’t be quick to say this is Measles. What most people mistake for Measles is a viral exanthem, there are other viruses that are known to cause generalized rashes like in Measles but it would not have all these other features described above.
How can my child get Measles?
If your child is not immunized, he or she can contract Measles when he breathes in the virus or comes into contact with the fluid from the rash. In other words, when someone with Measles coughs or sneezes he releases fine droplets into the air which contain the virus and can be breathed in by another person. It takes about 7 to 14 days before symptoms start to show. People with Measles can spread the virus up to 4 days before the rash appears and up to 4 days after the rash resolves. It is most infectious when they have the fever, cough and runny nose.
What do I do if my child has Measles?
Go to the hospital! Even though there is no specific treatment, there are a number of reasons why you should take the child to the hospital;
- The high fever could lead to convulsions
- Measles can spread to the brain (encephalitis)
- It can lead to Pneumonia which is the most common cause of fatality in Measles
Here’s what you should do,
– give your child lots of fluids to drink,
-allow the child to rest,
– give Paracetamol or Brufen to control the temperature and sponge the child when necessary.
The child should also be kept away from other people such as the school or people who are not immunized or don’t have a strong immune system like people who have AIDS
How do I protect my child?
The best protection is to ensure your child goes through the immunization schedule for Ghana to ensure that he or she is vaccinated against Measles at 9 and 18 months.
After reading, do you still think your child had Measles?