QOD: What does measles look like?

Measles typically starts with a cough, runny nose, and red eyes that may or may not be light-sensitive. This means that in the first few days, measles looks just like a whole list of other infections making it hard to diagnose quickly.

When people see pictures of measles, they see a child with a characteristic rash. The rash looks like fine red dots that begin on the face and spread down the body over a day or two. The rash is often accompanied by very high fevers (103-105). Unfortunately, the rash comes several days into the infection.

If your child is over 1 year of age, they should have had their first MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and therefore should not be at high risk for measles. If they are over age 4, they should have had a second “booster”dose of the vaccine. In children with a healthy immune system, the vaccines are more than 95 percent effective in preventing measles. If you believe your child is at risk, contact your pediatrician or family physician to review their immunization status.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, March 2019

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