Measles: A Preventable Disease Making a Comeback in Peshawar

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Measles: A Preventable Disease Making a Comeback in Peshawar

Measles, a highly contagious childhood illness, is rearing its head again in Peshawar, Pakistan, despite the availability of vaccines. This highly infectious disease can strike anyone, but children are especially vulnerable. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Spotting the Signs: Measles Symptoms

Measles often starts with a common cold-like feeling, including a cough, runny nose, fever, and watery eyes. A few days later, a telltale red rash erupts on the face and spreads over the body. This rash is accompanied by a high fever, sometimes reaching 104°F (40°C) or higher. Be aware of these additional symptoms:

  • Tiny white spots with bluish centers inside the mouth (Koplik’s spots)
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

The Culprit: The Measles Virus

The measles virus, a member of the Paramyxoviridae family, is the culprit behind this illness. It spreads through respiratory droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can linger in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours, posing an infection risk to anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated or haven’t had the disease before.

Shielding Yourself: Measles Prevention

Vaccination is the most powerful weapon against measles. The MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, routinely administered in Pakistan’s Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), is safe and highly effective. Make sure your children receive their vaccinations under the EPI program. Additionally, frequent handwashing and avoiding close contact with sick individuals can further decrease the risk of infection.

Combating the Illness: Measles Management

If diagnosed with measles, isolation is essential to prevent further spread. Supportive care, including rest, proper hydration, and fever management, helps ease symptoms. However, severe cases, especially in malnourished individuals or those with weakened immune systems, can lead to complications like pneumonia or encephalitis, requiring hospitalization.

Treatment Options: Managing Measles Symptoms

There’s no specific cure for measles, but treating the symptoms can help and prevent complications. This may involve:

  • Fever reducers like acetaminophen (paracetamol)
  • Antihistamines to manage itching
  • Antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections like pneumonia
  • Vitamin A supplements for children with vitamin A deficiency, which can lessen symptom severity and complication risk

Seek Medical Attention: Don’t Wait

If you suspect yourself or your child has measles, consult a healthcare professional immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.

The Bottom Line: Measles Prevention is Key

Measles is a serious but preventable disease. Vaccination is the best defense. By staying informed, practicing good hygiene, and ensuring proper vaccination, we can work together to stop the spread of measles in Peshawar and beyond. Don’t hesitate to speak to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Stay vigilant and stay healthy!