It is very rare for babies to get measles because they are vaccinated for it with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. Ever since 1980, the MMR Vaccine has helped to prevent about 2.6 million deaths every year.
However, it is prevalent in developing countries like India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The outbreak is not only in developing countries, but also developed countries like Australia and the United States of America are going through it.
Measles is deadly and has caused around 134,200 deaths all over the world in the year 2015; out of which majority are the children. India plans to eradicate measles by 2020, but it seems impossible as around 37 per cent cases of deaths caused by measles are from India. It can lead to complications like pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), heart problems, blindness, etc.
What is measles and how is it caused?
Caused by the Rubeola virus, measles is a deadly disease, that is highly communicable, and it affects a child’s respiratory system at first, then it spreads to the other parts. The virus is transmitted to others through direct contact with the throat/nasal secretions, personal contacts (close contacts like touching), and through droplets that are expelled out when an infected person coughs, sneezes, etc. The Virus remains active for a very long time in the air, and if a baby is exposed to it, the chances are high that she/he will get infected if she/he isn’t vaccinated.
How to detect measles in babies at home?
It takes around 10 to 12 days for babies/kids to show any signs and symptoms of measles. It is difficult to detect measles in babies because its symptoms are very much similar to that of common cold and flu. The symptoms of measles are as follows
- Fever above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, lasting up to 4 days or 1 week.
- Runny nose
- Red and swollen eyes
- The appearance of tiny whites spots with reddish border (Koplik’s spots) inside the baby’s mouth
- Rashes appear on the face and neck of the kid initially, and then it spreads to other parts of the body gradually. It fades off after five or six days
How to take care of your baby?
Like said earlier, measles is caused by Rubeola virus, so not much can be done once it starts showing symptoms. Since it is a viral disease, there is no specific treatment. Supportive treatment is given to sooth down the symptoms and to prevent the secondary infections.
It aches for a parent to see his/her baby got through so much pain, but there is nothing more you can do rather than comfort and cuddle her all day and night long.
Make sure your baby gets plenty of rest because her body will be under a lot of stress for all those days when she is going through measles. Keep her away from her nursery because she/he can again get infected by the virus if it is left on any of her toys. If you have other children, tell them to stay away from the baby, because they might suffer from measles if they are not vaccinated.
In case of new-born babies and infants, breastfeeding your baby will be the best option, but if you are not lactating enough then, you can give formula as well. If your baby is more than six months old, keep him/her hydrated by providing water, fresh juices, and other fluids. Frequent passing of urine can help to bring down fever to some extent (some amount of heat is expelled out of the body through urine). Avoid giving store-bought fruit juices as they are very high in sugar and may cause dehydration through diarrhoea.
Providing a well-balanced diet to the child would boost his/her immunity and thus lead to speedy recovery.
Wipe your baby with a small wet towel (squeeze out excess water) intermittently. Use ordinary tap water and not frozen or cold water. If you are in a region with the cold climate, you can mix some hot water to the cold water to maintain the water temperature. If you use cold water for sponging it will lead to contraction of blood vessels, and as a result, the heat gets retained within the body. Keeping your baby in a room where there is free air circulation is another way to reduce the fever.
DO NOT GIVE THE CHILD ANY MEDICINE WITHOUT DOCTOR’S PRESCRIPTION
- Humidify the room she is sleeping in
You can either buy a humidifier or keep a bowl of warm water in her bedroom. It will decongest her respiratory tract and reduce a cough.
How to protect your baby from getting affected by measles?
Prevent the relatives and others from handling the baby especially if he/she is less than one year (anyone can be a carrier, it’s better to ignore their complaints than endangering your child’s life).
Vaccinate your baby. It is the best option to prevent the disease as you will not know who your kid may come into contact with once they start to go to school or during their play.