Global Health Asia-Pacific May 2022 May 2022 - Page 12

You Ask , They Answer

Q

: Can you explain what measles is and how easily it spreads ?

A

: Measles is an acute viral respiratory illness caused by an
RNA virus . Highly contagious , it is transmitted by direct contact with infectious droplets or by airborne spread when an infected person breathes , coughs , or sneezes . Up to 90 percent of people who come into close contact with a measles patient will become infected . Additionally , the virus can remain infectious in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves an area .

Q

: What are the risks of developing measles for both paediatric and adult patients ?

A

: Individuals who are at risk of developing measles include unvaccinated young children , unvaccinated pregnant women , and unvaccinated individuals or immunocompromised individuals who are not able to mount a sufficient immune response after vaccination .

Q

: How effective is vaccination in preventing measles and can vaccinated individuals get infected ?

A

: Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97 percent effective at preventing measles , while one dose is about 93 percent effective . Although vaccinated people can get infected if exposed , these numbers are very low — about three in 100 . Moreover , fully vaccinated people who get measles seem more likely to have a milder illness . They also seem less likely to transmit the disease to other people , including people who can ’ t get vaccinated because they ’ re too young or have weakened immune systems .

Q

: What are the common and rare side effects of the vaccine ?

A

: Common side effects include a sore arm from the shot , fever , and a mild rash .
Uncommon side effects include a fever that causes seizures or febrile convulsions , but this occurs in only about one out of 3,000 young children vaccinated . Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints can also occur and while rare in young children are more common in people immunised during their teenage years or as adult women . An even rarer side effect is a temporary low platelet count that causes bleeding or bruising . This may occur after the first dose of MMR vaccine in about one out of 20,000 to 30,000 vaccinations .

Q

: What should people with measles do to take care of themselves and avoid spreading it ?

A

: There is no specific treatment for a measles infection .
However , doctors can prescribe treatments to relieve symptoms such as a fever , pain , cough , or rash discomfort . Importantly , get plenty of rest and avoid exerting stress on your body .
Some measures at home include keeping yourself well hydrated with water and fruit juice , boosting your immune system by eating more fruits and vegetables , and taking care of your eyes . Some people with measles are very sensitive to bright light . Dim the lights at home or wear sunglasses if it is too bright outdoors .
Finally , to prevent spreading the infection , infected individuals should isolate themselves for four days after they develop a rash .
Dr Ling Li Min
Dr Ling Li Min is an Infectious Disease Specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital and Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore .
10 MAY 2022 GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com