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Measles outbreak in upper Sindh

January 03, 2013

THIS is apropos of the heartbreaking news report ‘Measles kills two more children’ (Dec 29). This news reported 20 children but the electronic media said 100 children had already died in a month due to outbreak of measles in upper Sindh.

Measles is one of the most transmittable but vaccine-preventable infections. It is caused by morbillivirus-paramyxoviridae, which is a single-stranded RNA virus. This highly contagious virus is spread by coughing, sneezing or via close personal or direct contact with secretions. Measles starts with a cough, cold-like symptoms, red eyes and a fever, which are followed by a rash measles. The fever may reach up to 104F. Koplik's spots are seen inside the mouth but not often.

Some patients develop pneumonia-resultant immune system suppressed and bacteria get an opportunity to invade and cause secondary infection, which further deteriorates the patient condition.

The signs of bacterial infection include a severe cough and yellowish or greenish sputum. Other complications include ear infections, diarrhoea, bronchitis and encephalitis.

Confirmation of positive measles can be done by laboratory diagnosis with IgM antibodies or isolation of measles virus RNA from respiratory specimens.

There is no specific treatment for measles. Most patients with uncomplicated measles are recovered by taking rest and supportive treatment.

The first dose of vaccine is generally not given earlier than 12 months usually retain antimeasles immunoglobulins (antibodies) which are transmitted from the mother during pregnancy.

A second dose of vaccine is generally given to children between the ages of four and five, to increase rates of immunity.

Vaccine is effective enough to make measles relatively uncommon. All other treatment addresses to symptoms appeared after measles infection. Ibuprofen or paracetamol reduce fever and pain and, if required, a fast-acting bronchodilator is given for cough. Sufficient fluid must be given to patients to prevent from dehydration.

An early diagnosis is very important to save the lives of children, and isolation of patient from other children helps to control the disease from spreading. Vitamin A supplement makes a positive difference in recovering of the patient. The government should send well-trained people to affected areas quickly to control the disease, otherwise it could spread all over the country and take the lives of many children.