By Asmau Ahmad
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has urged parents and caregivers to ensure that their children are vaccinated against measles, describing the disease as very dangerous.
The Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaibu on Tuesday in Abuja said that measles affects mostly children who are under five years and can lead to death.
Measles is a childhood infection caused by a virus. Once quite common, measles can now almost always be prevented with a vaccine.
Also called rubeola, measles spreads easily and can be serious and even fatal for small children.
While death rates have been falling worldwide as more children receive the measles vaccine, the disease still kills more than 200,000 people a year, mostly children.
Shuaib said that measles reduces children’s ability to fight other diseases, resulting in frequent illness.
“Those at increased risk of contracting measles are children under five years who have not completed their Routine Immunisation and those not vaccinated against measles.
“For your child to be fully protected against measles, it is important for nine months to five years of age for children to receive measles immunisation,” he said.
The NPHCDA boss stressed that parents and caregivers should ensure their children get vaccinated against measles and yellow fever in the agency’s ongoing integrated campaign
“Other childhood immunisation and COVID-19 vaccines will also be administered at the mobile and fixed post,” Shuaib said.
Measles symptoms don’t appear until 10 to 14 days after exposure.
The symptoms include Fever, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, and Inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis).
Tiny white spots with bluish-white centres on a red background are found inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek, also called Koplik’s spots.
The signs also include a skin rash made up of large, flat blotches that often flow into one another.
The infection occurs in stages over two to three weeks. For the first 10 to 14 days after infection, the measles virus spreads in the body.
There are no signs or symptoms of measles during this time.
Measles typically begins with a mild to moderate fever, often with a persistent cough, a runny nose, inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis), and a sore throat.
This relatively mild illness may last two to three days.
The rash is made up of small red spots, some of which are slightly raised. Spots and bumps in tight clusters give the skin a blotchy red appearance.
The face breaks out first, while over the next few days, the rash spreads down the arms, chest, and back, then over the thighs, lower legs, and feet.
At the same time, the fever rises sharply, often as high as 104 to 105.8 F (40 to 41 C).
The measles rash may last about seven days. The rash gradually fades first from the face and last from the thighs and feet.
As other symptoms of the illness go away, the cough and darkening or peeling of the skin where the rash was may stay for about 10 days.
A person with measles can spread the virus to others for about eight days, starting four days before the rash appears and ending when the rash has been present for four days.