Sometimes kids catch weird germs. From hand foot and mouth to scabies, parents find themselves perplexed by the symptoms, worried by the diagnosis, and at a loss for what to do. Enter Holistic Squid – your source for to-the-point answers.
This week we are featuring measles, a highly contagious respiratory infection coupled with a tell tale rash.
Measles was formerly a common childhood illness like chicken pox until the introduction of the MMR vaccine in the early 1970′s. In 2010, there were a mere 63 confirmed cases of the Measles in the entire United States. So far, this year’s measles outbreaks are more rampant than they’ve been in 15 years which is being blamed on parents refusing to vaccinate their children. Keep in mind that there have been only 118 cases reported (Jan-May 2011) in the entire country. Nevertheless, parents have choices to make when it comes to protecting your child from measles.
Rubeola or Morbilli.
What are the symptoms?
Fever, a dry cough, possible sore throat, a runny nose, and eye inflammation. White spots may appear in the mouth. A dry red blotchy rash appears within 3 to 7 days, starting at the face and then spreading downwards.
Complications with measles are relatively common, ranging from mild diarrhea and ear aches to more severe conditions such as pneumonia, acute encephalitis, and eye problems such as corneal ulcerations.
Often confused with…
Other rash-causing diseases such as roseola and rubella (German measles) – these two also sound similar to measles’ other name – rubeola.
How’s it spread?
The measles virus is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread through direct contact with nose and throat secretions. It is highly contagious. Any child who is exposed to it and is not immune is likely to get the disease.
How long til symptoms appear?
Fever typically starts 7 to 18 days after exposure. The rash appears about 14 days after contact.
How long are you contagious?
Measles can be spread from just before symptoms begin until 4 days after the rash first appears.
How to prevent it?
Common sense hygiene applies: avoid contact with infected persons and their infected belongings such as soiled tissues.
Children may be vaccinated to prevent measles with the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are given, one at age 12 months and a second at 18 months. This vaccine is controversial in its involvement with autism.
Regardless of whether or not you choose to vaccinate your child, I urge you to incorporate a healthy diet including appropriate immune boosting herbs and supplements. Children with strong immune systems are less likely to contract diseases, and more likely to weather any illnesses quickly and with more ease than children with poor immune health, nutrient-deficient diets, and unhealthy lifestyles.
How to treat it?
Hydration is key with any fever (small sips of water, ice chips, or natural popsicles), and otherwise you want to keep the infected child as comfortable as possible so he/she can rest. Dim lights or use sunglasses if eye sensitivity to light occurs.
Kids with measles should be excluded from school and non-family contacts until 4 days after rash appears.
Chinese medicine is a great choice for addressing the symptoms of the measles as well as boosting the immune system to reduce the severity of the illness. The measles are typically diagnosed as “Wind Heat attacking the exterior” often with an underlying digestive weakness (common in kids). Homeopathic remedies may also be helpful and can be chosen based on your child’s current symptom presentation.
If your child is extremely uncomfortable and/or unable to sleep, you may reduce fever and discomfort with over-the-counter ibuprofen (avoid aspirin and acetaminophen).
As with most illnesses, it’s a good idea to take a quality probiotic, fish oil, vitamin D, and C to support the immune system to eliminate the pathogen and recover strength. Talk to your holistic practitioner to determine the right supplements for your child.
Did you, your child, or anyone you know have the measles?
Please share your experience here…