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Category: Infectious Diseases
Measles is an acute infectious disease, distinguished by a
characteristic eruption on the mucous membranes and skin. It is very
contagious and spreads through the atmosphere. Almost everyone is
susceptible to measles and suffers at least one attack. The disease is not
frequent during the first year of life. It prevails in all countries.
Incubation. This varies from thirteen to fifteen days. In calculating
this period we include the time from exposure to the appearance of the
eruption. One attack generally protects the person from another attack.
The period of the greatest danger of taking it extends through the period
of the eruption. It diminishes as the eruption fades. From this we learn
that the infection in measles takes place generally in the incubation
Symptoms and Description of Ordinary Type. The first symptoms may be only
a headache or a slight disturbance of the stomach. There may be some fever
in the evening. There is now a redness and watery condition of the eyes,
and general feeling of weariness. The cold symptoms (coryza) are not yet
marked, but if we look in the mouth we may see a few spots on the mucous
membrane of the cheek. Then follow the sneezing, running at the nose, sore
and red eyes; running water, sensitiveness to the light, cough and fever.
The eruption now appears, and is first noticed on the side of the head and
the wings of the nose, as a red spotted eruption, which soon looks like a
pimple, and then "blotchy." Older people feel quite sick. The aching all
over, and headache are sometimes almost unbearable, especially when there
is much coughing. The face, eyes and scalp are soon covered by the red
rose irregularly shaped pimples, which next appear rapidly on the back of
the hands, fore-arms, front of the trunk, on the back and lower
extremities. This order is not always maintained. Sometimes it first
appears on the back.
The eruptive stage generally lasts three or four days, during which time
the symptoms are all aggravated, especially by any strong light, on
account of the sore eyes for the measles are also in them. We have active
cold symptoms like sneezing, running at the nose, snorting, snuffling,
hawking. The cough is terribly severe, annoying, making the lungs and
stomach very sore. The head feels as if it would split. The patient holds
his chest and "stomach" while coughing. Symptoms of acute bronchitis
develop. Sometimes there is much diarrhea. Pneumonia often develops
through carelessness. The fever reaches its height when the eruption is
fully developed. The eruption fades after it has been out for three or
four days, and then all the symptoms decrease, the fever lessens and
becomes normal by gradual morning remissions. Scaling begins when the
pinkish hue of the rash has disappeared and continues until the last
vestige of reddish spots has disappeared. As a rule it is completed in two
to four weeks after the first eruption has appeared. Sometimes the scaling
is difficult to see, but it is never absent in measles: It is best seen on
the front part of the chest, shoulders, and the inner surface of the
thighs. The temperature may reach 104 to 105-8/10 without complications.
This description gives a picture of a typical case. The eruption that
appears in the mucous membrane of the mouth appears three to four days
before the skin rash. It is accompanied by redness of the pharynx and of
the front and back pillars of the fauces. The soft palate is studded with
irregular shaped, rose colored spots or streaks and the hard palate
presents small whitish vesicles. They are also found on the colored mucous
membrane of the cheeks and on that opposite the gums of the upper and
lower teeth. The rash of measles is a characteristic eruption of rose
colored or purple colored papules (pimples). As a rule the whole face is
covered with the eruption and is swollen. Diphtheria may complicate
measles. Bronchitis and brancho-pneumonia also may occur, especially if
the patient is careless and takes cold. Diarrhea is frequently present.
Eyes. Following severe cases fear of light, spasm of the orbicularis
muscle, inflammation of the lachrymal duct, conjunctivitis, ulceration of
the cornea and amaurosis (general blindness) may result. Hence the
necessity of careful attention to the eyes. Never read anything during the
attack of the measles. The ear may also become afflicted. There are other
complications, but these mentioned are the important ones.
Mortality in Measles. The mortality in childhood and infancy is about
eight per cent. Mortality is greatest for number of cases during the first
year. Six per cent between fifth and eighth years.
Diagnosis. Presents few difficulties in a typical case. The mode of onset
is cold symptoms of the nose and eye, cough; appearance of the mouth,
throat and the blotchy eruptions are very characteristic.
Treatment. Prevention. As soon as you know it to be the measles, separate
the case and put the patient in a well-aired room where you can have air
without a draft and where the room can be made and kept dark. Those
persons who must go in the room should put over them a linen robe, and
hang it outside of the sick room. It should thoroughly cover them. When
not in use hang it in the open air. An attendant who wears a beard should
disinfect his beard, face, head and hands before mingling with the well.
MOTHERS' REMEDIES. 1. Measles, Lemon Remedy from a Canadian
Mother. "Give child all cold lemonade it can drink and keep in warm room.
This acts just as well as if the drinks are hot. We tried both on our
children and cured both ways." Don't give so much of the cold as to chill.
The cold drink makes child sweat, just as hot does. Also helps to carry
off impurities by flushing bowels, just as clear water would.
2. Measles, Elder Blossom Tea to Drive Out. "Elder blossom tea is good
for a cold or fever. Gather the blossoms, and make a tea. Pleasant to
take. Sweeten if desired. This is also good to drive out the measles."
This remedy should be taken warm and is especially good to bring out the
rash in children. Take a teaspoonful every hour.
General Treatment. An ordinary case of measles does not need much
treatment. If the patient has a high fever and is very hot and restless,
bathe with tepid or cool water every two or three hours, till the patient
becomes quite restful. Sometimes they have too much covering and that
makes them hot and restless. Remove a little at a time. Bathing will not
hurt the rash, for it can be done under the clothes and without any danger
to the patient.
Cold Drinks. These are refreshing and beneficial, if not given too
freely. One-third of a glass of water is enough at one time, but it can be
given often, if it does not chill the patient. After the feverish days
have passed, diluted milk or plain milk can be given in greater amount.
Next: Cough in Measles
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