What you need to know about measles

A young boy suffering from measles is held by his grandmother at a state-run hospital in Hanoi on April 17, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
A young boy suffering from measles is held by his grandmother at a state-run hospital in Hanoi on April 17, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

About a month ago, an outbreak of measles occurred in the Philippines and infected 23 Singaporeans who had travelled there.

The most serious complications from measles include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea and dehydration, ear infections, or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.

Complications are more common in children under the age of five, or adults over the age of 20.

Here are some key facts from the World Health Organization about the disease.

About measles:

  • Measles is a highly contagious and serious disease that is caused by a virus.
  • Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children, even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
  • In 2012, there were 122,000 deaths caused by measles globally. This means about 330 deaths every day, or 14 deaths every hour.
  • Measles vaccination helped reduce the number of deaths caused by measles by 78 per cent between 2000 and 2012 worldwide.
  • In 2012, about 84 per cent of the world's children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services - up from 72 per cent in 2000.
  • Since 2000, more than 1 billion children in high-risk countries were vaccinated against the disease through mass vaccination campaigns. About 145 million of them received vaccination in 2012.

 Symptoms:

  • High fever for four to seven days
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Small white spots inside the cheeks
  • After a few days, a rash usually appears on the face and upper neck. Three days later, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for five to six days before fading.