Childhood Diseases


Measles is a serious but common childhood illness caused by a viral infection. Learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis, causes, treatment and prevention of measles in children here.

What is measles?

Measles is the most serious of the common childhood viral illnesses and is characterised by a red rash, high fever, cough and runny nose.

Causes of measles

Measles is caused by a virus and is highly contagious, spreading easily amongst people who are not vaccinated and haven't had measles before.

Treating measles

Many children diagnosed with measles can be treated safely at home, however in certain situations, your child's doctor may recommend a course of antibiotics.

Preventing measles

Measles vaccinations are given to South African children at nine and 15 months to prevent them from developing measles.

Symptoms of measles

The most noticeable symptom of measles is a red rash that usually starts at the back of the neck. Other symptoms include high fever, red eyes, a runny nose and a cough.

Diagnosing measles

Measles is often diagnosed by the characteristics of the rash although laboratory tests can be used for a definitive diagnosis.

Complications of measles

There are a number of serious complications that can occur in patients with measles. These include croup, pneumonia, diarrhoea and encephalitis.

Risk factors for measles

People with compromised immunity are particularly at risk of measles although it can affect anyone who hasn't been vaccinated or had measles before.

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