Measles virus

Measles virus

What is measles virus?

Measles diseases occur worldwide – caused by a human pathogenic RNA virus. The virus belongs to the genus Morbillivirus from the family of paramyxoviruses. The virus weakens the human immune system, which can lead to a number of diseases, including middle ear infections, inflammations of the respiratory tract or lungs. Particularly dangerous is encephalitis, inflammation of the brain, which occurs in about one in a thousand patients and causes severe damage as a result. In the worst case, it can even be fatal.

It is possible to be vaccinated against measles (rubeola). In developing countries, the infection is particularly widespread: in Africa and Asia, measles remains among the ten most common infectious diseases. Many people die from it.

How is the measles virus transmitted?

The transmission of measles occurs mainly from person to person and through direct or indirect contact with contaminated surfaces. Transmission can also take place over a distance of several metres, for example via a droplet infection by coughing, sneezing, speaking or via the air. Measles is one of the most infectious diseases.

What are the symptoms of the disease?

The disease progresses in two phases: Initial symptoms include a cold, cough, fever, inflammation of the nasopharynx or conjunctiva. Also typical is a rash on the oral mucosa (enanthem), which appears as calciferous white to blue-white spots. After three to seven days, the brownish-pink skin patches, which are also typical for measles, develop. These initially appear in the face and behind the ears and can last up to a week. The skin can flake as the rash subsides. Measles also causes an approximately six-week-long immune deficiency, which can lead to infection with further diseases.

Significance for infections in hospitals and in the outpatient sector

For inpatients suffering from measles isolation in a room with an antechamber is recommended. In addition to basic hygiene, the following measures for the attending staff apply: disposable gloves, protective gown, FFP2 respirator mask and protective goggles. In individual cases, it may be advisable to find persons who are have been in close contact with the patient. They may also require corresponding treatment.

The CDC recommends that healthcare providers report suspected measles cases to their local health department within 24 hours.

Survival time of pathogens on inanimate surfaces

2 hours in the air

Disinfectant effectiveness for prevention

The required spectrum of activity against measles virus is: limited virucidal

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