After three years of grappling with coronavirus disease, India continues to face new health challenges with each passing day. Now, several states in the country have been affected by the Measles outbreak, with Mumbai being the worst-hit city with 303 cases so far. Cases of this highly communicable disease, which mostly affects children, are constantly rising in Maharashtra and have claimed several lives in Mumbai.
Kerela is also witnessing a measles outbreak with 160 cases of the disease reported thus far. The government is urging parents to be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of the disease and ensure that their children are vaccinated against measles. Amid the outbreak, a special inoculation drive is also being undertaken to control the surge.
What is Measles?
Measles is a communicable disease caused by a paramyxovirus family virus that spreads through the air or through direct contact. Dr Prashanth Urs, Sr Consultant Neonatologist and Pediatrician, Apollo hospitals Bannerghatta Road, Karnataka, told Healthshots, “Measles virus spreads through when an infected person sneezes or coughs. It is a highly contagious disease that can last in the air for up to 2 hours.”
As per the World Health Organisation, measles infects the respiratory tract, which subsequently spreads throughout the body. Before the Measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, significant outbreaks occurred that claimed around 2.6 million lives annually. As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, nearly 2.7 million children in India are affected by Measles every year.
Symptoms of measles
Anybody who gets measles will show symptoms after 7-14 days of exposure, asserts the expert.
A rash is one of the most common symptoms of measles that appear in people post exposure. People with measles can spread the disease 4 days before the rash appears to 4 days after it, he adds. People with measles should be closely monitored for other complications like ear infection, croup, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and encephalitis
It is advisable for a person with measles to stay isolated as the disease can spread through coughing and sneezing. Standard airborne infection precautions should be deployed, as per the expert.
Vaccination is key to controlling the measles outbreak
“The mainstay of protection from measles is vaccination,” says Dr Urs. With the present outbreak being a gap in routine immunization during Covid, vaccinating your children against the disease becomes extremely important.
If children are not immunized against measles, get them immunized immediately, advises the expert. The best defence against the disease is the MMR vaccine, which is effective against measles, mumps, and rubella.
MMR vaccine doses to protect your child against Measles
Dr Urs says that the Indian Academy of Pediatrics recommends 3 doses of MMR vaccine for different age groups.
- The first dose of the MMR vaccine should be given at 9 months.
- The second vaccine should be given at 15 months.
- The third dose should be given between 4-6 years.
If children have missed the vaccine, get them vaccinated immediately to avoid measles and its complications.