Measles cases have been on the rise in Singapore. According to data sourced from the Ministry of Health, 116 cases of measles have been reported in Singapore so far. It is important to note that measles is a highly infectious disease and is totally preventable by vaccinating oneself and your kids.
“Measles cases are rising globally, due to misplaced fears about vaccination side effects. Travellers should check that they have been fully vaccinated against measles before travelling to areas with measles outbreaks.
It is not just a kid’s problem. Teenagers, youths and adults who received incomplete or no vaccination are at risk to measles.
Measles is a highly infectious disease. In severe cases, devastating complications lead to blindness, pneumonia and infection & swelling of the brain.
Measles is caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family and is normally passed through direct contact and through the air. The virus infects the respiratory tract, and then spreads throughout the body.
The disease is also known as rubeola or morbili (Rubella or German measles is a different disease).
Symptoms of measles
It takes about 10-12 days after contact with a contagious infected person, for the symptoms to start. The symptoms begin with:
- High grade fever.
- Cough and runny nose.
- Watery red eyes with sensitive to the light.
- Body fatigue.
2-3 days later, a red blotchy rash appears, first on the face and neck, then it spreads to the trunk and limbs. The rash will last for 4-7 days. The fever is on the peak when the rash appears.
From the time the symptoms start until the rash fades will last for 10-14 days. Measles will be contagious for about four days before to four days after the rash began.
Complications in measles
- Ear infection (otitis media)
- Pneumonia (infection of lung)
- Encephalitis (infection of brain)
- Measles in pregnant women can cause miscarriage, premature delivery and low birth weights.
Treatment in measles
There is no specific treatment for measles. Symptoms are usually relieved by:
- Paracetamol to bring down the fever.
- Avoiding bright lights which hurt the eyes.
- Taking a lot of rest and water.
The rash requires no treatment and it will disappear by itself.
An infected person should stay home until no longer contagious (about 4 days after the rash appears.)
How measles can be prevented
Measles cases has been greatly reduced nowadays thanks to the MMR vaccine. This vaccine contains 3 components measles vaccine, mumps and rubella.
In Malaysia, the MMR vaccine is given in 2 doses: First dose at 12th month, the second dose is given at the age of seven. The vaccine is available in government as well as private clinics and hospitals.
In Singapore, vaccination against measles is compulsory. The first dose of the MMR vaccination should be given at 12th month, and the second dose at 15 to 18 months. The School Health Services provide the MMR vaccine to Primary 1 pupils who did not receive the second dose in their pre-school year
What should I do if I am unsure whether I am immunised against measles?
If you are unable to verify through vaccination records whether your vaccination is completed or missed altogether, just go for a MMR (measles, mumps & rubella) jab at a doctor’s clinic. There is no harm in getting another dose of MMR if you are already immune. There is no need to have a blood test to check for immunity.
Who should not get vaccinated?
- If you have severe allergic reaction to a dose of measles vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine like neomycin.
- Pregnant ladies.
- Person who have HIV or cancer.
- Person on a medication which lowers the immune system.
- Had another vaccine in the past month.
- Recently had a blood transfusion or received any blood products such as plasma.
Side-effects of measles vaccine
The side-effects are usually mild and will go away in few days. Such as:
- Mild rash
- Swollen glands in cheeks or neck
Less common side-effects:
- Pain or stiffness in the joint.
- Seizures from having high fever.
- Temporary low platelet count.
Make sure you and your child are fully immunized against measles. The benefits of vaccination extend beyond prevention in individuals. Vaccinating against measles can mean a difference between life and death not only for you but other members of society.”