Measles is a pretty awful disease of childhood that fortunately is rarely seen, now that vaccines against it are routinely used. It is an acute disease that is characterized by cough, fever, inflamed eyes, thick nasal discharge and a red rash that is a mixture of small flat spots and tiny raised bumps.  It is caused by a virus and is easily by cough and sneezing. The only natural place the virus can live is in people and that is why it can often be seen in epidemics. There are a lot of complications of measles, including middle ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (infection of the brain) croup, and in very young children, diarrhea.  Death from brain infection or difficulty breathing can occur.


  • Fever, usually 103 (F) or higher
  • Cough, red eyes, runny nose
  • Aching and feeling miserable
  • Red, mixed flat and slightly raised rash over most of body.
  • Diarrhea, especially in very young children


  • There is no specific antiviral medication.
  • Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever and aching.
  • Give lots of fluids
  • Avoid bright light
  • Keep away from other children, if possible, until four days after the rash is seen.
  • Limit activity
  • Sponge with lukewarm – not hot or cold – water to relieve fevers

Call the Doctor if:

  • Measles is suspected so diagnosis can be made.
  • Cough becomes productive of yellow or green mucus
  • Difficulty breathing occurs
  • Severe headache is noted or a seizure (rarely) occurs
  • Vomiting or diarrhea is persistence
  • Child complains of earache

Measles is a disease of children that can produce major complications and even result in death. With the use of proper immunizations, measles has become almost a disease remembered only by your child’s grandparents. However, due to the fact that some children are either not immunized or cannot for medical reasons be given vaccines, measles still occurs and outbreaks happen every year.

Protect your child by making sure that immunizations are a routine part of your plan for good health. Measles is preventable; keep it that way!