Non-child problems: the danger of measles in adults
Although it is considered a pediatric infection, measles may well affect an adult. Is an adult likely to become infected? Does he need to be vaccinated against the disease? How to understand that this is exactly measles, not flu, for example? And what is the danger of measles?
How can you get infected?
The measles virus (its causative agent) is transmitted only by airborne droplets: it is released into the air by the sick during coughing, sneezing and even breathing and gets on the mucous membranes of the nose and oral cavity of others. The virus can exist only in the human body, therefore it is impossible to get infected through everyday objects.
Measles is a very contagious disease. Doctors define its so-called contagiousness index of 95%. What does it mean? Of the one hundred people who are susceptible to measles, contacting the sick will become infected 95.
Who is immune to measles?
Immunity to this infection is produced either by vaccination or after a person has been ill.
Vaccination against measles is included in the immunization schedule; it is administered to children twice: in the same year and in six years. Vaccination will protect the body for 10–15 years. Then its action weakens.
Can an adult get measles if he was vaccinated as a child? Yes, it can, but this happens infrequently. It all depends on the individual characteristics of the organism. Someone childhood vaccination will act for life, well, and the other may well become infected. But even if so, he will suffer the disease more easily than the one who was not vaccinated at all.
The vaccine is valid for 15 years, then it is useless.
Stronger immunity remains after the disease. In the absolute majority of cases, those who in childhood had experienced measles did not get sick anymore. The exception is people with immunodeficiency states.
So, at risk are:
people who were not vaccinated during childhood and who did not have measles;
vaccinated in childhood, but their immunity to measles is significantly weakened over time;
people with immunodeficiency.
What does measles look like in adults?
The disease develops and proceeds, as in children, but only in a more severe form. Measles have an incubation period: from infection to the appearance of the first signs in an adult, it takes from one to three weeks. But by the end of the period, the person becomes contagious.
The initial symptoms of measles in an adult are similar to signs of a respiratory infection (ARVI, flu):
deterioration of health, weakness;
a sharp jump in temperature, with severe disease – up to 39 degrees;
runny nose, cough;
hypersensitivity to light, tearing.
in severe cases, vomiting, cramps, shortness of breath.
A few days later a characteristic measles rash appears – small pink specks. The rash starts from the face and also affects the neck and the area behind the ears. On the 2nd day, the rash goes to the hands and torso, on the 3rd day – to the feet.
With measles the temperature rises
The specks may merge, they gradually darken, the temperature drops.
Then the spots turn pale, the skin begins to peel off – recovery begins.
From the appearance of the rash to its disappearance, it takes about 2 weeks.
It is possible to distinguish measles from respiratory infections before the appearance of the rash by the so-called Belsky-Filatov-Koplik spots. These are small whitish dots in the mouth – on the gums, on the inside of the cheeks and lips, on the palate.
What is the risk of measles in adults?
In addition to the fact that this childhood disease is very serious in adults, the effects of measles can be quite serious.
The fact is that the virus, once in the body, infects the cells of the immune system, as a result, the immunity is weakened. And this is the likelihood of the accession of a secondary infection, and any organs may be affected:
bronchi and lungs – respectively, the development of bronchitis, bronchopneumonia and pneumonia; measles pneumonia caused by the measles virus is especially dangerous. It flows very hard, with fever, vomiting, purulent damage to the lungs;
upper respiratory tract – diseases of the upper respiratory tract, including acute suppurative otitis media and eustachitis – inflammation of the auditory tube, the consequence of which may be deafness;
digestive organs – pancreatitis, enterocolitis, etc .;
central nervous system – meningitis, encephalomyelitis, epilepsy;
kidney – pyelonephritis;
in pregnant women there is a risk of miscarriage, malformations, missed abortion.
How to prevent measles?
An effective way to prevent a disease is vaccination. You can graft and adults. They are vaccinated twice with an interval of 6 months. After vaccination protection lasts at least 12 years.
Who should be vaccinated?
Those who did not have measles and were not vaccinated in childhood.
Those who are not sick and do not remember whether he was vaccinated in childhood.
You can find out if you are immune to measles by testing for antibodies to the virus.