Measles is very infectious.
Measles has become much less common since the introduction of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine in the UK. The incubation period is about 10 days, after which time children become febrile, snuffly, may cough and develop conjunctivitis (red eyes). After three or four days a florid reddish rash appears, initially on the face and head, which then spreads downwards to cover the whole body. The rash often becomes blotchy. The rash begins to fade by the fourth day, and the child then gradually improves. Paracetamol preparations (Calpol in the UK) are effective at reducing the fever, and relieving many of the symptoms. There is no specific treatment. Pneumonia and ear infections are common complications, which should be treated promptly. Children who become drowsy, start vomiting or complain of headache should be taken to a doctor, as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) is a rare but well recognised complication of measles occurring 7-10 days after the onset of the illness.
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