measles


measles
/mee"zeuhlz/, n.
1. (used with a sing. or pl. v.) Pathol.
a. an acute infectious disease occurring mostly in children, characterized by catarrhal and febrile symptoms and an eruption of small red spots; rubeola.
b. any of certain other eruptive diseases. Cf. German measles.
2. Vet. Pathol. a disease in swine and other animals caused by the larvae of certain tapeworms of the genus Taenia.
3. (used with a pl. v.) the larvae that cause measles in swine and other animals, and that upon maturation produce trichinosis in humans.
[1275-1325; ME mesels, var. of maseles (pl.); c. D maselen (pl.), MD masel; akin to G Masern measles, pl. of Maser speck]

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Highly contagious viral childhood disease.

It initially resembles a severe cold with red eyes and fever; a blotchy rash and higher fever later develop. After recovery, patients have lifelong immunity. Adult patients tend to have more severe cases. Antibiotics now prevent death from secondary infections. Measles itself, for which there is no drug, requires only bed rest, eye protection, and steam for bronchial irritation. A vaccine developed in the 1960s proved not to give permanent immunity and is too heat-sensitive for use in tropical areas. The worldwide incidence of measles continues to rise. Research is currently directed toward development of a more stable vaccine. See also rubella.

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also called  rubeola 

      contagious viral disease marked by fever, cough, conjunctivitis, and a characteristic rash. Measles is commonest in children (childhood disease and disorder) but may appear in older persons who have escaped it earlier in life. Infants are immune up to four or five months of age if the mother has had the disease. Immunity to measles following an attack is usually lifelong.

      Measles is so highly communicable that the slightest contact with an active case may infect a susceptible person. After an incubation period of about 10 days, the patient develops fever, redness and watering of the eyes, profuse nasal discharge, and congestion of the mucous membranes of the nose and throat—symptoms often mistaken for those of a severe cold. This period of invasion lasts for 48 to 96 hours. The fever increases with appearance of a blotchy rash, and the temperature may rise as high as 40 °C (about 105 °F) when the rash reaches its maximum. Twenty-four to 36 hours before the rash develops, there appear in the mucous membranes of the mouth typical maculae, called Koplik spots—bluish-white specks surrounded by bright red areas about 1/32 inch (0.75 mm) in diameter. After a day or two the rash becomes a deeper red and gradually fades, the temperature drops rapidly, and the catarrhal symptoms disappear.

      No drug is effective against measles; the only treatment required is control of fever, rest in bed, protection of the eyes, care of the bowels, and sometimes steam inhalations to relieve irritation of the bronchial tree. When no complications occur, the illness lasts 10 days. Uncomplicated measles is seldom fatal; deaths attributed to measles usually result from secondary bronchopneumonia caused by bacterial organisms entering the inflamed bronchial tree. On the other hand, complications of measles are frequent and include a superimposed bacterial ear infection or pneumonia or a primary measles lung infection. encephalitis is a rare occurrence. Measles virus can invade various organ systems and cause hepatitis, appendicitis, and gangrene of the extremities. A large percentage of cases of severe measles are associated with inadequate intake of vitamin A, and there is evidence that treatment with vitamin A may reduce measles complications.

      Mortality caused by measles declined steadily in the 20th century as the health of children and infants improved and effective treatment of complications became possible through the use of sulfonamide and antibiotic drugs. The widespread use of measles vaccine, beginning in the late 1960s, raised hopes for the eventual eradication of the disease; but, contrary to expectations, the incidence of measles remains high worldwide. The main problem is that the vaccine is not given to infants before the age of nine months, when the disease is most serious in the less-developed countries. Another problem is that the measles vaccine is a live vaccine, and it rapidly becomes inert if exposed to warm temperatures; 10 minutes in sunlight is sufficient to kill it. This sensitivity is a great hindrance to its use in tropical areas. Research is currently directed toward development of a more stable vaccine. In developed countries, a measles vaccine is commonly given at 12 to 15 months of age as part of a combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

      Measles must be differentiated from other disorders accompanied by an eruption. In roseola infantum, a disease seen in babies, a measleslike rash appears after the child has had a high temperature for two or three days, but there is no fever at the time of the rash. German measles ( rubella) can be superficially differentiated from measles by the shorter course of the disease and mildness of the symptoms. Sometimes the rashes of scarlet fever, serum reactions, and other conditions may, on certain parts of the body, look like measles. Drugs that may produce rashes similar to measles are phenobarbital, diphenylhydantoin, the sulfonamides, phenolphthalein, and penicillin.

      On very rare occasions, persistent infection with a mutant measles virus can cause a degenerative central nervous system disease called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), in which there is a gradual onset of progressive behavioral and intellectual deterioration. Motor incoordination and impairment of speech and sight subsequently develop. The final stages of stupor, dementia, blindness, and death occur within six to nine months. There is no treatment for SSPE.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Measles — Mea sles, n.; pl. in form, but used as singular in senses 1, 2, & 3. [D. mazelen; akin to G. masern, pl., and E. mazer, and orig. meaning, little spots. See {Mazer}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Med.) A contagious viral febrile disorder commencing with… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • measles — infectious disease, early 14c., plural of Middle English masel, perhaps from M.Du. masel blemish (in plural measles ) or M.L.G. masele, from P.Gmc. *mas spot, blemish (Cf. O.H.G. masla blood blister, Ger. Masern measles ). There might have been… …   Etymology dictionary

  • measles — is normally treated as a singular noun, although occasionally it is used as a plural, sometimes preceded by the: A consultant said measles was on the increase / The measles have left him feeling weak …   Modern English usage

  • measles — [mē′zəlz] n. [ME maseles, pl. of masel, measle, spot (? infl. by mesel, leper < OFr < L misellus, wretch < miser, wretched), akin to OHG māsa, a spot, Ger masern, measles] 1. a) an acute, infectious, communicable disease caused by a… …   English World dictionary

  • Measles — Mea sles, n. [From 1st {Measle}.] Leprosy; also, a leper. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • measles — ► PLURAL NOUN (treated as sing. ) ▪ an infectious disease spread by a virus, causing fever and a red rash. ORIGIN probably from Dutch masel spot …   English terms dictionary

  • Measles — An acute and highly contagious viral disease characterized by fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and a spreading skin rash. Measles, also known as rubeola, is a potentially disastrous disease. It can be complicated by ear infections, pneumonia,… …   Medical dictionary

  • measles — noun plural but singular or plural in construction Etymology: Middle English meseles, plural of mesel measles, spot characteristic of measles; akin to Middle Dutch masel spot characteristic of measles Date: 14th century 1. a. an acute contagious… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • measles — n. 1) to catch, come down with (the) measles 2) an epidemic; outbreak of measles * * * [ miːz(ə)lz] come down with (the) measles outbreak of measles an epidemic to catch …   Combinatory dictionary


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