Immunisation & Vaccine Preventable Diseases

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Immunisation and Vaccines

Measles

General Information | Surveillance & Epidemiology | Vaccination

Introduction

Measles is a disease resulting from infection by measles virus. It can affect people of all ages but infants less than one year are at increased risk of complications and death. It is one of the most communicable diseases with one case having the potential to infect another 12-18 individuals through respiratory droplets in susceptible populations. The disease is characterised by initial fever, malaise, conjunctivitis, coryza, cough and Koplik spots followed by a maculopapular rash which spreads from the head to the body and limbs. The incubation period of measles is approximately 10 days with the rash usually appearing 14 days after exposure to the virus. Measles cases are infectious in the four to five days before rash onset and the four days after.

Complications of measles occur in around 1 in 15 notified cases and include otitis media, pneumonia, convulsions, encephalitis and death. A rare complication of measles is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a fatal degenerative neurological disorder. The case fatality ratio is approximately one death per 5000 cases with it being highest in children under one year of age.

Vaccination with measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is the most effective strategy for preventing measles transmission within the population.

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