What Causes Measles?

Causes of Measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the measles virus, which belongs to the Paramyxovirus family. The virus is primarily transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Here are the main factors that cause measles:

  • Measles Virus: The measles virus is the direct cause of measles. It is highly contagious and can survive in the air and on surfaces for several hours.
  • Close Contact with an Infected Person: Measles spreads easily from person to person through respiratory droplets. If an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks near someone who is susceptible (not immune to the virus), they can contract the infection.
  • Lack of Vaccination: Measles can be prevented with the measles vaccine, which is highly effective. However, individuals who are not vaccinated or have not received both doses of the vaccine are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.
  • Travel to Endemic Areas: People who travel to regions where measles is still prevalent, and vaccination rates are low, are at an increased risk of contracting the virus.
  • Compromised Immune System: Individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with certain medical conditions or undergoing certain medical treatments (e.g., chemotherapy), are more susceptible to measles.

The measles virus primarily infects the respiratory tract and then spreads throughout the body. It causes a range of symptoms, including high fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes (conjunctivitis), and a characteristic rash that usually starts on the face and spreads down the body. Measles is highly contagious, and even an infected person can transmit the virus to others a few days before the rash appears and up to four days after.

Measles is a preventable disease, and vaccination remains the most effective way to protect against it. The measles vaccine is typically given as part of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which is recommended for children and adults who are not immune to measles. Vaccination not only protects the individual but also helps prevent the spread of the virus within the community, especially for those who cannot receive the vaccine due to certain medical conditions.

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