Last update: 2022-06-07
Measles is a very contagious virus that can make children very sick. In a community where no one is vaccinated, one person with measles can infect between 12 and 18 other people.
- Coughing, sneezing or close personal contact (infected droplets in the air are breathed in by another person)
- Direct contact with infected nose or throat mucous
- Can start with high fever, runny nose, cold, cough, red and watery eyes and sometimes white spots inside the mouth.
- After a few days, a flat red blotchy rash appears, usually starting on the head, face and upper neck, and continues to spreads to the rest of the body.
- In severe cases, measles can cause blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea and dehydration, ear infections, or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.
- Routine vaccination of children
- Mass vaccination campaigns with social mobilization in countries where the disease is common and causes many deaths
- Rapid detection and referral of suspected cases to health facilities
- Reduced overcrowding in shelters
- Improved ventilation in shelters
- Separation of people sick with measles for four days after they develop a rash
- Coughing etiquette (cough into sleeve, handkerchief or tissue, NOT the hand)
- Handwashing with soap
- Social mobilization and behaviour change communication
- Children who are not vaccinated, especially those who are poorly nourished or have vitamin A deficiency
- Adults aged more than 20 years old
- Pregnant women
- Displaced populations and those living in cramped or crowded conditions
- People whose immune systems are compromised (for example, by leukaemia or HIV infection)
If an epidemic occurs
- Rapidly detect and refer cases to health facilities
- Support mass vaccination campaigns
- Isolate sick people (separate them from healthy people)
- Promote coughing etiquette (cough into sleeve, handkerchief or tissue, NOT the hand)
- Promote handwashing with soap
- Check nutritional status of children under five years old and promote nutritional support to those who are malnourished or sick
- Promote exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life
- Increase social mobilization and behaviour change communication
- Reduce overcrowding in shelters
- Improve ventilation in shelters
Community-based assessment - questions
- When did people start to fall sick with measles?
- How many people have fallen sick with measles? Where?
- How many people have died? Where?
- How many people live in the affected community or area? How many children under five years of age live in the area?
- Who and where are the vulnerable people?
- Are children under five most affected? Or are other age groups, occupations, etc., more affected?
- Are children in the affected community vaccinated for measles or not?
- Is a vaccination campaign planned?
- Do strong cultural beliefs or perceptions about vaccination prevent children from being vaccinated?
- Where are the local health facilities and services? (Include traditional and community carers.)
- What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about caring for and feeding sick
people? When babies and infants are sick, do mothers continue to breastfeed them?
- Is a social mobilization or health promotion programme in place?
- Which sources of information do people use most?
- Are rumours or is misinformation about the disease spreading in the community?