II. Pathophysiology

  1. Genus: Morbillivirus
  2. Incubation: 8-12 days (from exposure to rash onset)
    1. Range: 7-18 days (rarely up to 21 days)
  3. Transmission
    1. Infectivity starts 4 days before symptoms and extends to 4 days after rash onset
    2. Droplets of nasopharyngeal secretions
    3. Highly contagious
      1. Affects 90% of susceptible household contacts

III. Epidemiology

  1. Sporadic outbreaks in teenagers and young adults
  2. Incidence: World
    1. Worldwide Measles deaths 150,000 per year, esp. in age <5 years old (600,000/year before year 2000)
  3. Incidence: U.S
    1. U.S. Cases in 1941: 894,000 cases
    2. U.S Cases before 1967
      1. Infected: 500,000 cases/year
      2. Hospitalized: 50,000 cases/year
      3. Deaths: 500 deaths/year
    3. U.S. Cases in 2000: 86 cases
    4. U.S. Cases in 2014: 667 cases (especially in California, Ohio, New York City)
      1. Reintroduced from endemic regions via international travel
      2. U.S. transmission is increased via unimmunized patients (failed Herd Immunity)
    5. U.S. Cases in 2017: 100 cases as of May 20, 2017
      1. Measles outbreak in Minnesota related to unimmunized Somali community
      2. Community had been convinced not to immunize based on false MMR Autism links
      3. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/05/03/526723028/autism-fears-fueling-minnesotas-measles-outbreak
    6. U.S. Cases in 2019
      1. So far, in only the first 3 months of 2019, there have been 387 Measles cases
  4. References
    1. CDC Measles Statistics
      1. https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html

IV. Symptoms

  1. Prodrome (precedes the rash by 2-3 days)
    1. Classic "3 C's"
      1. Severe Cough (dry, hacking)
      2. Coryza
      3. Conjunctivitis
    2. High Fever (up to 105 F or 40.5 C)
    3. Malaise
    4. Irritability
    5. Photophobia
  2. Koplik Spots in Mouth (3-4 days after start of prodrome)
  3. Erythematous maculupapular rash (3-5 days after start of prodrome)
    1. Rash spreads from forehead, behind the ears and neck
    2. Then spreads to trunk and then to extremities (1-2 days later)
    3. Patients are contagious 4 days prior to rash onset
    4. Other symptoms begin to decrease after rash onset (esp. after foot involvement)
    5. Rash resolves over the following 5-10 days, followed by Desquamation

V. Signs

  1. Koplik Spots (pathognomonic, 60-70% of cases)
    1. Grayish-white sand-like clustered dots
    2. Slight, reddish areolae that may be hemorrhagic with a bluish-white center
    3. Often opposite upper first and second molars
    4. My spread to involve any of Buccal mucosa, lips, Gingiva, Hard Palate
    5. May also affect the Conjunctiva, vaginal mucosa
  2. Fever (Onset with rash)
  3. Blotchy red-brown, maculopapular, Morbilliform rash
    1. Discrete red-brown Macules blanch with pressure
    2. Begins on forehead
    3. Spreads to face and neck, behind ears
    4. Spreads to trunk and extremities
    5. Palms and soles are affected in up to 50% of patients
  4. Cervical Lymphadenopathy

VI. Labs: Measles Diagnosis

  1. Approach
    1. Measles clinical case definition (symptom criteria)
      1. Fever with Temperature >= 101°F (38.3°C) AND
      2. Cough, Coryza, or Conjunctivitis AND
      3. Generalized, maculopapular rash that lasts for at least 3 days
    2. Testing Indications
      1. Rash AND Fever AND 1 of 3 upper respiratory symptoms (Cough or Coryza or Conjunctivitis) OR
      2. Rash AND Fever alone if risk factors (known exposure or international travel in last 30 days)
    3. Resources
      1. When to Suspect and Test for Measles (Minnesota Department of Health)
        1. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/measles/hcp/whensuspect.pdf
  2. Measles PCR (blood, throat, nasal secretions or urine) - First Line Testing
    1. Testing at 0-5 days after rash onset
      1. Measles throat swab PCR
    2. Testing at 6-9 after rash onset
      1. Measles throat swab PCR and
      2. Measles urine PCR
  3. Measles Serology (IgG and IgM) - May be performed in addition to PCR
    1. Measles IgM is positive within first few days of rash onset (elevated for the first month)
  4. Older test modalities (where PCR not available)
    1. Viral culture of throat, nasal secretions or urine
  5. References
    1. Minnesota Department of Health Measles Lab Testing
      1. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/measles/hcp/index.html#lab

VII. Labs: Other Testing

  1. Complete Blood Count
    1. Pancytopenia with Thrombocytopenia may occur in severe cases
    2. Leukopenia during prodrome
      1. Lymphocytes <2000 associated with worse prognosis
  2. Liver Function Tests
    1. Transaminases increase in Measles hepatitis
  3. Respiratory secretions
    1. Respiratory secretions with multinucleated giant cells
    2. Immunofluorescent staining of respiratory cells

IX. Course

  1. Severity related to extent and confluence of the rash
  2. When rash reaches feet, clinical improvement has begun

X. Management

  1. Supportive care
  2. Suspected cases
    1. Contact local public health department (initiate testing, contact tracing)
    2. Exposure precautions in hospital
    3. Discharged patients should self quarantine until definitive diagnosis
  3. Prevent spread
    1. Patients should quarantine themselves at home
    2. Patients and their household contacts should use Airborne Isolation protection for at least 4 days after rash onset
  4. Immunocompromised patients
    1. Consider Ribavirin
    2. Immunocompromised patients should be isolated for the entire duration of Measles infection
  5. Children
    1. Vitamin A
      1. Decreases morbidity and mortality and is recommended by WHO for all children with Measles
  6. Exposed healthcare workers
    1. Non-immune healthcare workers should be off work from day 5 after first exposure to day 21 after last exposure

XI. Complications

  1. Early Common Effects
    1. Otitis Media
    2. Diarrhea and Dehydration
  2. Early Severe Effects
    1. Severe disease with Dehydration
    2. Pneumonitis
    3. Pneumonia (3-5% of young adults)
      1. May result directly from measles Pneumonia or from Bacterial superinfection
      2. Includes Interstitial Giant Cell
    4. Hepatitis
    5. Glomerulonephritis
    6. Myocarditis
    7. Encephalitis (1 per 1000 Measles cases)
      1. Onset 4-7 days after rash
      2. Presents with Seizures, lethargy, Altered Mental Status
      3. Exclude other causes of Meningitis and Encephalitis including Bacterial Meningitis
      4. Mortality: 10%
      5. Immune-mediated response
  3. Late Effects
    1. Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE)
      1. Incidence: 8.5 cases per 1 million Measles cases
      2. Onset 7-10 years after Measles infection
      3. Presents with Dementia and neuromuscular disorders (e.g. Ataxia, Seizures)
  4. Mortality
    1. Developed countries: 1-2 deaths per 1000 Measles cases
    2. Developing countries: 1-2 deaths per 100 Measles cases
    3. Worldwide (2013): 145,700 deaths (400 per day or 16 per hour)
    4. Highest mortality in infants and young children and Immunocompromised patients
    5. Mortality is also high in unimmunized pregnant women

XII. Prevention

  1. Active Immunization
    1. See MMR Vaccine
    2. Very effective Vaccine (97% protective after 2 doses)
    3. MMR Vaccine is safe (many studies have shown no association with Autism)
    4. Avoid delaying MMR Vaccination (perform at scheduled time: 12-15 months and 4-6 years)
    5. Measles is the most contagious of the Vaccine preventable diseases (affects 90% of those exposed)
    6. Contraindications: Immunocompromised
    7. Adults born in U.S. before 1957 may be assumed immune
    8. Those who are immunized and still acquire Measles tend to have mild course and are less contagious
  2. Immunoglobulin post exposure (passive Immunization)
    1. Dose
      1. Gamma globulin: 0.25 ml/kg (MAX 15 ml)
    2. Indications (within 6 days of exposure)
      1. Infants <12 months old
        1. May instead use Measles Vaccine for ages 6-12 months for exposure within 72 hours
      2. Pregnant women without measles Immunity
      3. Close, prolonged patient contact without measles Immunity
      4. Tuberculosis
      5. Immunocompromised patients

XIII. Resources

XIV. References

  1. Baringa and Skolnik in Hirsch and Kaplan, Measles, UpToDate, accessed 1/28/2015
  2. Chen in Steele, Measles, Medscape EMedicine, accessed 1/28/2015
  3. Harrison and Ruttan (2019) Crit Dec Emerg Med 33(7): 3-12
  4. Wallace and Spangler in Herbert (2015) EM:Rap 15(2): 2-3

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Related Studies

Ontology: Measles (C0025007)

Definition (MSHFRE) Maladie infectieuse très contagieuse due au virus de la ROUGEOLE (MORBILLIVIRUS), retrouvée chez les enfants mais aussi chez les adultes non immunisés. Le virus entre dans l'organisme par la voie respiratoire par la projection de gouttelettes de salive. Le virus se multiplie dans les cellules épithéliales, puis gagne le système réticulo-endothélial. (Dorland, 27th ed)
Definition (MEDLINEPLUS)

Measles is an infectious disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily from person to person. The main symptom of measles is an itchy skin rash. The rash often starts on the head and moves down the body. Other symptoms include

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Feeling achy and run down
  • Tiny white spots inside the mouth

Sometimes measles can lead to serious problems. There is no treatment for measles, but the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine can prevent it.

"German measles", also known as rubella, is a completely different illness.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Definition (NCI) A highly contagious viral infection caused by the measles virus. Symptoms appear 8-12 days after exposure and include a rash, cough, fever and muscle pains that can last 4-7 days. Measles vaccines are available to provide prophylaxis, usually combined with mumps and rubella vaccines (MMR).
Definition (CSP) childhood viral disease manifested as acute febrile illness associated with cough, coryza, conjunctivitis, spots on the buccal mucosa, and rash starting on the head and neck and spreading to the rest of the body.
Definition (MSH) A highly contagious infectious disease caused by MORBILLIVIRUS, common among children but also seen in the nonimmune of any age, in which the virus enters the respiratory tract via droplet nuclei and multiplies in the epithelial cells, spreading throughout the MONONUCLEAR PHAGOCYTE SYSTEM.
Concepts Disease or Syndrome (T047)
MSH D008457
ICD9 055
ICD10 B05 , B05.9
SnomedCT 154338006, 14189004
LNC LA17014-4
English Measles, Rubeola, measles, measles (diagnosis), Rubeola virus infection, Measles NOS, morbilli, Measles [Disease/Finding], measle, Measles disease, Rubeola Infection, Morbilli, Measles (disorder), rubeola
Dutch rubeola, rubeolavirusinfectie, mazelen, Mazelen, Morbilli, Rubeola
French Infection par le virus de la rubéole, Rougeole
German Rubella-Virus-Infektion, Masern, Rubeola
Italian Infezione da virus del morbillo, Rubeola, Morbillo
Portuguese Infecção por vírus do sarampo, Sarampo
Spanish Infección por el virus del sarampión, Morbilli, sarampión (trastorno), sarampión, Sarampión
Japanese 麻疹ウイルス感染, マシン, マシンウイルスカンセン, 麻疹, はしか
Swedish Mässling
Czech spalničky, Spalničky, Morbilli, Infekce virem spalniček, morbilli
Finnish Tuhkarokko
Korean 홍역
Croatian OSPICE
Polish Odra
Hungarian kanyaró, Morbilli vírus fertőzés, morbilli
Norwegian Meslinger

Ontology: Koplik spots (C0221200)

Concepts Sign or Symptom (T184)
SnomedCT 14166007, 271667004
Dutch Koplik-vlekken
French Taches de Koplik
German Koplik-Flecken
Italian Macchie di Koplik
Portuguese Manchas de Koplik
Spanish Manchas de Koplick, mancha de Koplik (anomalía morfológica), mancha de Koplik, manchas de Koplik (hallazgo), manchas de Koplik
Japanese コプリック斑, コプリックハン
Czech Koplikovy skvrny
English koplik spot, koplik spots, kopliks spots, Koplik spot, Koplik spots, Koplik spot (morphologic abnormality), Koplik spots (finding), Koplik's spots
Hungarian Koplik-foltok