Measles cases are on the rise in 2013 with recent outbreaks in several states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 159 cases of measles from January to August, 2013. Most cases were in persons who were unvaccinated (131 [82%]) or had unknown vaccination status (15 [9%]). The biggest outbreaks were in New York, North Carolina and Texas.
Measles had been virtually eliminated through vaccination in 2000. But the measles virus continues to be imported to the U.S. from other countries where vaccination rates are much lower and then spread through populations in the U.S. where vaccination rates are low.
Measles (also known as rubeola) is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory system that is caused by the measles virus. After the measles virus infects the upper airways (upper respiratory tract), the incubation period is about 10 days before symptoms develop. Common symptoms can include a cough, fever, red, itchy eyes, small red or white spots in the mouth (known as Koplik spots), and a rash over the body that usually appears as flat pink spots.
Complications from measles more commonly occur in children younger than 5 and adults. Serious complications include blindness, inflammation of the brain caused by infection (encephalitis), severe diarrhea that may potentially lead to dehydration, ear infections and severe respiratory infections. The most common cause of death associated with measles is from pneumonia. The majority of deaths from measles occur in developing countries.
For more information and photos of the rash associated with measles, please visit:
For a historical and more detailed perspective on measles in the United States see:
vaccine exemptions linked spike measles cases
Measles was previously a common disease, but now many physicians have never encountered it and thus, it has become a difficult diagnosis in some cases. For physicians who are not familiar with the presentation of measles or who would like diagnostic assistance with similar rashes, please visit https://www.visualdx.com for a free trial of the VisualDx software.
VisualDx, based in Rochester, NY, is the industry leader in visual diagnostic decision support, providing affordable, fast and widely used mobile apps and online resources scientifically proven to improve diagnostic accuracy while also educating and empowering patients. VisualDx has developed a patented visual diagnostic system and process that ensures a quicker and more accurate diagnosis. Its products include VisualDx (https://www.visualdx.com), a mobile app and online clinical decision support system to help clinicians improve diagnostic accuracy, and Skinsight, the Web’s leading consumer skin health and wellness site.