Measles: An acute and highly contagious viral disease characterized by fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and a spreading skin rash. Measles, also known as rubeola, is a potentially disastrous disease. It can be complicated by ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (which can cause convulsions, mental retardation, and even death), the sudden onset of low blood platelet levels with severe bleeding (acute thrombocytopenic purpura), or a chronic brain disease that occurs months to years after an attack of measles (subacute sclerosing panencephalitis).
During pregnancy, exposure to the measles virus may trigger miscarriage or premature delivery.
Treatment includes rest, calamine lotion or other anti- itching preparations to soothe the skin, non-aspirin pain relievers for fever, and in some cases antibiotics. Measles can often be prevented through vaccination. Also known as hard measles, seven-day measles, eight-day measles, nine-day measles, ten-day measles, morbilli.
See also measles encephalitis; measles immunization; measles syndrome, atypical; MMR.
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Last Editorial Review: 6/9/2016