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Measles: symptoms and diagnosis of a dangerous disease

There are many diseases that have been virtually eliminated through vaccination and preventive measures. Most of them are characterized by vivid symptoms, severe course and the development of serious complications. These factors stimulated scientists to the invention of various ways to diagnose and prevent pathologies. These diseases include measles, outbreaks of which have become quite rare in developed countries.


What is measles

Measles is an acute infectious disease that is caused by a virus. Its feature is extremely high infectiousness, due to which it easily penetrates inside the human body through mucous membranes. Then the infectious agent begins to multiply in the epithelial cells of the inner surface of the nasopharynx, trachea and bronchi. Measles can be transmitted by airborne droplets, rapidly spreading through the air, even in cold weather.

The virus is easy to destroy with the help of various disinfectants, high temperatures, lipid solvents, sunlight.

Measles virus

The measles virus can infect not only humans, but also monkeys, causing not only measles, but also subacute sclerosing panencephalitis

Due to the severe complications that can occur in patients, around 10-15 deaths are recorded daily in the world. Of course, the highest percentage of such cases occurs in Asia and Africa, where medicine is currently at a very low level.

Measles is considered a disease of younger people, since it is in children that it is detected most often. However, in adults, the disease is accompanied by the most severe course. After recovery, a strong immunity is formed, which helps to reduce the number of cases of repeated infections.

A video about measles in the program of Elena Malysheva “Live healthy!”

Symptoms: fever, rash, spots Filatov-Koplika

Measles often leads to diagnostic errors, because there are several forms that are very different in manifestations. In people who do not have immunity, the disease progresses with a consistent increase in symptoms, the course is acute. However, in rare cases of reinfection, an atypical form can be observed, which can sometimes be easily confused even with the common cold.

Measles teenager

Symptoms of measles can be either pronounced or erased

Symptoms of the disease, including the initial, catarrhal period

Currently, it is customary to distinguish three stages of the disease and the incubation period. This course of the disease is characteristic of measles.

Disease stages - table

Period name Period duration Rash Body temperature Related symptoms
Incubation period From 7 to 14 days Absent Normal
  • state of health without changes;
  • the most infectious patient in the last days of the incubation period.
Stage catarrhal 5 to 9 days On the inner side of the cheeks there are white spots with a red border (Belsky-Filatov-Koplik spots).
  • high;
  • then decreases to normal;
  • a day later re-increase in body temperature.
  • acute onset of the disease; General malaise, weakness, severe headaches;
  • Sore throat, dry cough, purulent runny nose;
  • patients suffer from photophobia;
  • lymph nodes are enlarged.
Stage of rashes Up to 10 days
  • spots appear first on the head, face, then descend on the chest and cover the whole body completely;
  • in adults, hemorrhagic elements may appear.
  • high temperature;
  • fever may be less pronounced than during the catarrhal stage.
  • cough and runny nose worse;
  • eyes begin to water;
  • There are attacks of heart palpitations;
  • blood pressure is greatly reduced.
Stage of recovery Up to 10 days
  • rashes pass;
  • on the place of the syphonic elements, scaly skin and small bruising areas are formed.
The temperature drops to normal.
  • the patient is recovering;
  • photophobia, cough, runny nose.

Sometimes patients have two very severe forms, which more often than usual lead to various complications:

  1. The hemorrhagic form is very dangerous due to multiple bleeding that can occur not only on the skin, but also in the internal organs. Blood is found even in urine and feces. The patient requires urgent hospitalization, as it is possible death. Blood pressure can drop sharply, the face becomes pale, there is a strong weakness, and fainting is possible.
  2. The hypertoxic form is characterized by severe intoxication of the body. In the course of the disease, the internal organs begin to be affected in the patients, which is extremely negative for the patient. If you do not take timely measures, then everything can be fatal due to multiple organ failure.
Symptoms of measles

Patients have high fever, rash, sore throat, dry cough

Manifestations of the disease in a child, including infants, older than one year

In children, measles often occurs in a less severe form than in adults, and takes place in a shorter time. If, in a typical form, they have all the standard signs of the disease, then, in the case of atypical, the severity of the latter may change significantly. This option is observed in vaccinated children, since the previously acquired immunity does not allow the disease to develop fully. There are several types of atypical measles that can be diagnosed in patients:

  1. Abortive begins with fever, dry cough, runny nose, and then all symptoms stop abruptly. The rash on the head and torso are mild, pale and disappear in a short period of time.
  2. Mitigation is a weak intoxication, the temperature rarely rises to febrile numbers, the skin can be covered with a small and quickly passing rash. A sign of measles are spots on the gums at the base of the teeth. Most often, this form is detected in children who have been injected with gamma globulin prophylactically in order to avoid infection after contact with a sick person.
  3. The erased form may be similar to other diseases. Symptoms do not appear fully, there may be no characteristic rash. The patient has a little fever, maybe a cough, a runny nose.
  4. Asymptomatic form is similar to the common cold. In this case, patients are rarely diagnosed correctly.
Measles rash

With atypical measles, the rash can be smaller and can be seen in a small amount.

If a woman has had measles before pregnancy and childbirth, then her antibodies are transmitted to the baby and in the first six months he has almost no chance of becoming infected. However, over time, the immunity weakens and after one year is reached, a special vaccination is required. Because of this, in the period from 6 to 12 months, the probability of getting measles increases significantly. In infancy, the disease is very badly tolerated, the risk of complications increases. During the catarrhal period, immunity is significantly reduced in children, which can lead to secondary infection.

Video about measles in the program "School of Doctor Komarovsky"

Symptoms of the disease in adults

Unlike children, adulthood has its own characteristics:

  • body temperature often rises to high numbers;
  • patients feel very bad, require strict bed rest;
  • the spots of Belsky-Filatov-Koplik are more pronounced and can appear on the whole body;
  • the illness lasts longer, it takes longer to recover;
  • more often hospitalization and treatment is required under the supervision of doctors.

Measles symptoms video

In pregnant women, the symptoms of measles are similar to those in adults and children. In the first stage, there is a sharp increase in temperature, conjunctivitis, cough, runny nose, and photosensitivity appear. Also observed characteristic rashes throughout the body.

Measles rash

During measles, there are characteristic spots in the mouth and skin rashes.

Diagnosis, including laboratory blood tests for antibodies and immunity tension

When the first signs of measles appear, you should consult an infectious diseases specialist. Usually, a diagnosis is made on the basis of external symptoms. However, in case of suspicion of other diseases, the doctor will prescribe special laboratory research methods that help to determine the causative agent with great accuracy.

To establish the correct diagnosis, the doctor will prescribe various diagnostic methods to the patient, which allow determining the cause of the disease with great accuracy.

  1. Complete blood count (UAC) for measles shows abnormalities characteristic of inflammation.
  2. An enzyme immunoassay (ELISA) is performed to determine the intensity of immunity to the measles virus. You can perform it in the initial stages of the disease. This method is quite informative, based on the detection of specific antibodies to the measles virus - immunoglobulins (IgG, IgM). Already a day later, an increased amount of IgM is detected, and approximately on the tenth day of the disease - IgG.
  3. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is very specific and has almost 100% accuracy. During the study revealed the genetic material of the virus in the blood of the patient.
  4. The reaction of inhibition of hemagglutination is carried out to determine the titer of antibodies in serum. When measles is observed, their growth is about four times.
Blood test tubes

A blood test is performed to clarify the diagnosis.

When deciphering a blood test for the content of immunoglobulins M are guided by the following values:

  • 0.12–0.18 IU / ml is a dubious result. Little time has passed since the onset of the disease, so there are no antibodies;
  • > 0.18 IU / ml is a positive result. The virus is detected by the body.

Differential diagnosis, including chickenpox and rubella

Differential diagnosis of measles is carried out with other diseases, accompanied by fever and skin rash.

Differential diagnosis of measles - table

Disease name The onset of the disease Intoxication Body temperature Cough description Runny nose Conjunctivitis The defeat of the mucous membranes and skin
Measles Sharp Strongly pronounced High
  • dry;
  • rude;
  • increases in the catarrhal period.
there is there is
  • Belsky-Filatov-Koplik spots;
  • rashes on the oral mucosa and soft palate;
  • merging rash over the whole body and head.
Rubella Sharp Moderate High Missing Missing Missing
  • spots are small, rare, do not merge;
  • appear on the face and body.
Chickenpox Sharp Moderate to severe High Missing Missing Missing
  • rash on the body, limbs, mucous membranes;
  • rash with yellow contents;
  • painful, loose elements;
  • rash may itch.
Scarlet fever Sharp Strongly pronounced High Missing Missing Missing
  • petechial rashes;
  • no rash between the nose and the upper lip.
Allergic reactions Sharp Missing Missing Rare Sometimes observed Eyes may become red and watery.
  • itchy rashes;
  • rash quickly passes after reception of antihistamine preparations.
Whooping cough Gradual Missing Normal
  • dry;
  • frequent;
  • getting worse daily.
Missing Missing Missing
Parakoklyush Gradual Missing Normal Cough dry, gradually increasing. Missing Missing Missing
Bronchitis Sharp there is Elevated Wet Sometimes present Missing Missing
Pneumonia Sharp there is Elevated Wet Sometimes present Missing Missing
ARVI Sharp there is Elevated
  • cough may be dry or wet;
  • disappears a week after the onset of the disease.
there is Missing In rare cases, rash on the mucous membrane of the sky.
Comparison of measles, chickenpox, rubella rashes

Rubella, chickenpox and measles rash varies significantly

Diagnosis during pregnancy

Since the symptoms and the course of the disease during pregnancy are not much different from the manifestations in the remaining patients, diagnostic methods remain standard. First of all, the doctor will look for the characteristic signs of measles, the appearance of Belsky stains, a rash. If doubts remain, the specialist will send the woman to take the tests.

At the same time, it is almost impossible to detect infection of the fetus, since no changes will be visible on the ultrasound. The born children are usually found measles rash on the body.

Measles is a serious and dangerous viral disease that can lead to various serious consequences. Both younger and older people are ill. The measles virus is very contagious. It spreads rapidly among people who are not immune to it. Special vaccines have been used to reduce the incidence of the disease for a long time.


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