How one can be infected with measles and preventive measures

With the call for measles immunization by the Kenyan government let’s learn a thing or two about measles and how it can be spread.

Measles is touted as a very contagious and dangerous disease. There are tells of ancient measles pandemics that were catastrophic. It’s with this understanding that we are advised to help prevent the spread on measles by taking early preventive measures of immunization by the ministry of health in Kenya  . Rubella or measles is viral and affects the respiratory system of the victim. Usually contact with infected saliva or mucus easily spreads the disease. It can also spread through coughing or sneezing of the infected person through the air. The viral pathogen can stay alive on surfaces for a number of hours making it easy for it to infect anyone who is close to the infected person.

How can one be infected with measles?

The highly contagious virus is spread by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. The virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to 2 hours. It can be transmitted by an infected person from 4 days prior to the onset of the rash to 4 days after the rash erupts. Measles outbreaks can result in epidemics that cause many deaths, especially among young, malnourished children. In countries where measles has been largely eliminated, cases imported from other countries remain an important source of infection. Drinking from an infected person’s glass or sharing eating utensils with an infected person increases your risk of infection. When a woman is infected with the rubella virus early in pregnancy, she has a 90% chance of passing the virus on to her fetus. This can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or severe birth defects known as CRS. Infants with CRS may excrete the virus for a year or more.


The symptoms of measles generally show ten (10) to fourteen(14) days after exposure to the virus. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Coughing and sore throat
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Runny nose and red eyes
  • White spots inside the mouth
  • Bumpy rashes all over the skin

The infection occurs in sequence or stages over a period of two to three weeks

  • Infection and incubation. For the first 10 to 14 days after you’re infected, the measles virus incubates. You have no signs or symptoms of measles during this time.
  • Nonspecific signs and symptoms. Measles typically begins with a mild to moderate fever, often accompanied by a persistent cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis) and sore throat. This relatively mild illness may last two or three days.
  • Acute illness and rash. The rash consists of small red spots, some of which are slightly raised. Spots and bumps in tight clusters give the skin a splotchy red appearance. The face breaks out first, particularly behind the ears and along the hairline. Over the next few days, the rash spreads down the arms and trunk, then over the thighs, lower legs and feet. At the same time, fever rises sharply, often as high as 104 to 105.8 F (40 to 41 C). The measles rash gradually recedes, fading first from the face and last from the thighs and feet.
  • Communicable period. A person with measles can spread the virus to others for about eight days, starting four days before the rash appears and ending when the rash has been present for four days.



The most effective way of prevention is through vaccination. Other practices that can help are:

  • Avoiding physical interaction with known infected individuals
  • Hygiene and sanitation practices including covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing
  • Adequate Ventilation
  • Cleaning hands
  • Wearing masks where indicated


There is no specific antiviral treatment for measles virus. Severe complications from measles can be avoided through supportive care that ensures Good nutrition. Adequate fluid intake and treatment of dehydration. The WHO recommendes oral rehydration solution, which replaces fluids and other essential elements that are lost through vomiting or diarrhoea. Antibiotics should be prescribed to treat eye and ear infections, and pneumonia. All children in developing countries diagnosed with measles should receive two doses of vitamin A supplements, given 24 hours apart. This treatment restores low vitamin A levels during measles that occur even in well-nourished children and can help prevent eye damage and blindness. Vitamin A supplements have been shown to reduce the number of deaths from measles by 50%. Contact a doctor immediately if you suspect you have measles. If you have not received a measles vaccine and you come into contact with an infected person, visit your doctor to receive a measles vaccine within 72 hours of contact to prevent an infection.







HowKE Team

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